An inspector called

All the boxes got ticked.

We had a general inspection this week by one of their lordships. It seems to have gone quite well with no one being given their marching orders (though that’s supposed to have happened elsewhere).

The past three weeks have been busy or hellish with flu, pneumonia and various people sticking their noses in. The weather has been complete rubbish as well. It still continues to be February. I’m fed up with February, and the weather.

I went to a restaurant/bar called HBO last night. It’s just beside the canal on 解放路 and can be seen from the bridge on 县前街. The owner is actually a Filipino. The surroundings are very nice (and meant to be even nicer upstairs) and the food, though expense, was actually very good. It’ll be worth a visit now and again. The house red wine was a decent Shiraz.

I’ve been watching Christmas at Downton Abbey, which means I’m as up-to-date as I can be with the series. I watched the second series after I got back to the Empire. I have to admit that I thought some of the story lines were hugely contrived such as Lavinia being conveniently mown down by the Spanish Flu; Bates forever being tragic; Thomas getting out of the trenches without any questions being asked about his wound. Of all the characters, Daisy seems to have developed the most as she gets fed up with her lot. The Saga of Matthew and Mary continues to get dragged out.

Well, that tale isn’t quite over, but this one is.

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The delights of winter

Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain…

This is painful. Because of the earliness of the Spring Festival, I keep thinking it should be March by now, and then have to keep reminding myself it’s still February. This term is going to drag if this sort of feeling continues to pervade it.

Once again, this part of the Empire is enjoying a miserably wet winter. The humidity level is currently sitting around 90% and it’s pouring down outside as I write. The temperature has risen for the past couple of days, which is making our building sweat on the inside; but what goes up is supposed to come down as we descend back into single figures tomorrow.

Two years ago we suffered that long, cold winter. This year it appears that we could be in for a damp, grey spring. At least, that’s my current prediction.

In other news, I signed up to Hyperion Records the other day and have already (over)indulged myself in several albums, viz. two sets of Sonatas by Leclair; Dowland’s Lachrimae; music from 17th century Venice; brass music from 16th and 17th century Spain, Italy and Germany (I like the mellow sound); consort music by Peter Philips; and various keyboard works by MRN Couperin et al.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had any new music and there’s quite a bit more I’d like to buy. Amazon UK doesn’t earn any Brownie points for being sniffy about IP addresses or I’d buy music from there. It also doesn’t help that HMV has gone from Hong Kong, but digital music is more convenient than a CD when you live a life like mine.

I’ve decided to play my way through all the music I have, which is not something I’ve done in a long time.

Watch: Amazing Hong Kong in 1961!: Shanghaiist

Watch: Amazing Hong Kong in 1961!: Shanghaiist.

This is some fascinating footage of Hong Kong 51 years ago. While some of the scenes might still be found in corners of the territory today, there’s a Mainland feel to the place, viz. dirty, impoverished and squalid. I don’t know whether the clip is an accurate picture of life in Hong Kong in general at the time or whether that’s what people travelling on the tram saw.

[14.11.13. There’s also another, more recent post on the Shanghaiist of footage from China in 1937.]

The 2,000th post

Let’s get this over with.

Since WordPress now tells me how many entries I’ve posted here, I’ve been aware that the 2,000th post wasn’t far away. I’d like to have something substantial to say, but I could be waiting for a long time and never have anything to say sufficiently worthy of such a milestone.

I will note that if I hadn’t acquired the means to circumvent the imperial government’s clod-brained censorship of the Internet, the 2,000th post might’ve been some time away. There’d still be my Live Journal blog, of course, but this is the main one, the heir to my Spaces blog.

I get a steady but small stream of visitors. Many people still seem to want to know who CTB is; quite a lot come for tales of old China; and quite a lot for my summary of the Tobler-Moussafia Law. A certain number also come looking for the pronunciation of Chengdu. I don’t know whether many ever come back, but since the number of visitors is fairly regular, I assume that the visits are mostly one-offs.

Thanks to some vile peasant generous donor coughing or sneezing over me in the past few days, I’ve come down with a cough and have been suffering from flu-like symptoms, viz. tired and achy, today. So much for the end of the holidays.

I’ve been following the story in Hong Kong since the locals complained about the woman feeding her child on the MTR (in spite of announcements in Cantonese, Mandarin, and English); then about pregnant women from the Mainland taking up hospital beds in Hong Kong; and most recently the description of Mainlanders in Hong Kong as locusts. That, in turn, has been parodied on the Mainland, but the locusts here are migrant workers. I think this is a little unfair because if it wasn’t for the migrant workers, the locusts who go to Hong Kong wouldn’t have the money to get their pregnant wives into hospital, to have their babies pissing in rubbish bins, and to spit in that noisy vulgar fashion.

Well, my cotton wool brain says enough is enough, and that it’s time to post no. 2000.

Satan’s lucky cabbages

The number of the price.

I needed to do some shopping when I got back to the Empire, and went to Carrefour to buy various items for tea. I happened across a pair of cabbages for ¥6.66. I’m surprised that no one had bought them because 666 is a lucky number here and because imperial citizens are a fairly superstitious lot. Actually, I think I may already have mentioned seeing Satan’s lucky car (with 666 on the reg. plate) parked outside the building.

Satan would’ve needed his scarf on today. Yesterday was grey and hazy; today, clear, sunny, and bitterly cold to boot as an icy wind blew down shade-covered streets. There is some cloud off to the east, but the pollution in the air makes it hard to determine whether it’s a bank or whether it’s sheep-like clumps drifting across the sky as it is overhead. The air is reasonably clear although still has that brown tinge from billions of particles of dust. Cough.

Sunny, sunny again, and then…

Grey and hazy.

I returned to the Empire yesterday after a journey which involved rather a lot of inertia as I waited to resume my journey. For example, it took me seven hours to get home from the time the plane landed at Pudong. Four of those were simply waiting at the airport, first for the ticket office at the coach station to open at 8.30am and then for the first bus to Wuxi, which left at 10.10am. Unlike last year, I didn’t have a hotel room to which I could retreat, and I ended up almost falling asleep on the seats near arrived in Terminal 2 because there’s no seating along the paths between the two terminals, I didn’t fancy sitting around in the squalid waiting room. The other three hours were the journey to Wuxi, which is punctuated by a stop at Hongqiao to collect passengers from there.

Contrary to the forecast which I looked up on Baidu a couple of days ago, the weather was bright and sunny with barely a cloud to be seen. After New Zealand, of course, the air lacks that sparkling clarity. Even the temperature wasn’t so bad and it wasn’t until I did some shopping late yesterday afternoon that I recalled my thermal knickers and found that I didn’t need them.

That was yesterday. This morning, though, the forecast has been less amiss. It’s very, very grey and moderately hazy, and as I write, it could be any time o’clock.

As for the flight itself, there’s little worth mentioning. It was an overnighter, which meant that I spent a lot of the flight nodding off, tipping forwards, and waking up again. I need to find some way of strapping myself to the seat so that when I do nod, my head doesn’t tilt and the rest of me doesn’t try to tumble forwards. Actually, vertical straps would sort of do the trick although that leaves my rather wobbly head flapping about like a mad woman’s knickers on a clothes line in a force 9 gale.

I did have one weird dream, though. I was sitting on a chair in a room when a mortar bombardment began. It was so heavy that the chair and I were shaken several metres across the floor. The my wobbly head probably wobbled and I woke up. (As a side note, not unrelated to mortar bombardments, there has been a plethora of fireworks going off this morning. No sooner did one lengthy barrage end a couple of minutes ago, then a new one commenced. Lantern Festival today?)

Anyway, the washing has done, I’ve inflicted more trivia on the world, and there’s an empty drying frame out there which isn’t going to hang the washing out itself.