Category Archives: Pictorials

Are you quite sure you want to say that?

Yet another of those sorts of T-shirts.

Toxic summer T-shirtI got a snap of the T-shirt I saw in Carrefour the other day. I suppose that “toxic” might indeed be quite an appropriate adjective considering the state of the environment, but I think it might be a more suitable description of the Internet at the moment. At school at least it’s got very difficult to access quite a few sites.

When I get the opportunity, though, I’m going to see whether it’s any more difficult in the classrooms upstairs because I’m wondering whether the line from our office is being deliberately interfered with. For example, I tracked down the Junicode font a couple of days ago, but it took me some time to be able to download it because I either couldn’t access a page or I’d be redirected to some search engine page and would have to try reloading the page.

On the other hand, when I was looking at the same pages from one of the computers in the classrooms I didn’t have any problems at all. Mind you, that was just one time and no proof of anything.

I see that the Americans are going to spend US$30 million on fighting online cэnσorσhιp. Yeah, that’s so going to work. If you looked at traffic out of the Empire, whether it could successfully connect to some external website or not, just where would people be going? What proportion of the country even strays outside the box? If access was allowed to blogspot, YouTube, and Facebook, who would actually go there? Mind you, perhaps we need someone to go Admiral Perry on the Ministry of Raging Paranoia and kick the door in. But it is the Ministry of Raging Paranoia, fighting the good fight against that worst of enemies – the people.


Up rose the sun

And up rose Mr Bamboo.
wuxi_sunrise I woke up far too early this morning because I needed to go to the loo and, for the second day running, I’d got overheated without the air con on. Because it was getting light, I had a quick peek out of the window, which had the photographer in me taking a picture just before the sun rose. It promised to be a clear day and has remained that way, although the cloud is beginning to get a little thicker than it was earlier.
Luckily, I only have teaching before lunch, which means that I can have a snooze this afternoon. According to the accompanying information, the picture was taken at 5.25am, although that this is half an hour later than I thought it was is scant consolation.
I also discovered by accident after I pressed the wrong button, that with automatic exposures, you can adjust the eV setting. As is typical of my camera, the first shot was overbright and failed to capture the scene as I saw it.
According to the Guardian, it’s Тибэтан дэмокраси day, I don’t recall Тибэт being a дэмократйк country even before it was first subjugated under the iron jackboot of the imperium sericum. Perhaps this is some form of central Asian irony. Mind you, even if Тибэт was independent, I’m having problems imagining that it would be governed by an enlightened дэмократйк regime.

Sunset over Hui Shan

Serendipitous snappery.
wuxi_hui_shan_sunset As I was heading back over the bridge from tea this evening, I happened to catch the sun just sitting on the edge of 惠山 as it was setting after another clear, sunny day decorated lightly with cloud. I took a snap with my phone and wished that I had had my camera with me, although I’m not sure that the picture would’ve been any better for it.
There was no cloud in the east this evening, hence no picture like yesterday’s to be had.

Incy, wincy lizard

Climbing up the wall.
lizard01 When I went to cross the curtains in the lounge last night, I spotted this creature clinging to the wall outside my neighbour’s place. This isn’t such a feat for a lizard since the stippled wall must be quite easy for it to scale, but I was surprised to see the animal at this altitude (about 45-50m above the ground I estimate) since I don’t imagine there’s much up here for it to hunt. I don’t know whether it might be vulnerable to bats, though.

Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning

“Watch out for the sheep.”
wuxi_dawn I’d been expecting it to be dark this morning because that’s how it’s typically been when I get up on those mornings when I have to be at school when normal people would still be on the final reel of that night’s dream. But instead, it was rather light and picturesque. Unfortunately, this was all of the clear sky we saw today. The cloud was have none of it and soon had us hidden beneath a dull grey blanket. As you can imagine, it’s been bitterly cold, although whether we’re in for snow, I don’t know. It was dry today both in the no precipitation sense and in the desiccated sense.

Banner says


To the north and west of the school a fragment of old Wuxi remains. The buildings to the north have been marked for 折. On a wall part way along the street, there’s a banner which says, 文明拆迁, 依法拆迁 (wénmíng chāiqiān, yīfǎ chāiqiān) “A civilised demolition and resettlement, a demolition and resettlement according to the rules”. I’d guess that some of the 拆迁 is neither civilised or in accordance with the rules if this is the sort of banner it’s felt necessary to display. [31.08.13. It took years before the buildings were finally demolished, and even now they land is empty, although a new wall has gone up, which presages the commencement of building work sometime.]

wuxi_old10 wuxi_old11

I’ve been curious to know what’s down the narrow street which runs from the street west of the school and discovered this old but well-kept street, though the building on the corner has long since been abandoned. The street runs alongside a narrow branch of the canal, although whether it gets any traffic, I don’t know and doubt.

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The view in the first picture is down an alley off the street. It seemed rather picturesque, the sort of thing I’d want to paint rather than photograph. The second picture is historic Wuxi being manufactured. When I first arrived, there was some of the building in the centre of the picture and a little bit of the landing. I suppose someone has been commissioned to contrive a history of this ancient place – founded by the Emperor Qianlong during the Song Dynasty, visited by Marco Polo, the location of the first Wuxi Party Congress in 1871 etc. Can’t you just feel the genuine antiquity?

The school

And rather nouvelle at that.

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The first picture is the passage in the building where I work. It’s the same in both directions, hence I only need to show you what it looks like in this direction (although it might be that direction). In truth, I don’t know whether the PAL classes are left or right when I leave the office, but they’re in one direction and the AS/A2 classes are in the opposite direction. I have no idea whether I turn left or right. There’s a good chance that I’ll try to go into the conference room instead of our office when I try to find my way back. I’ve already done that a couple of times. [31.08.13. The building was subsequently refurbished, half being devoted to our programme, and half to the school museum which is opened when visitors come calling. Due to a lack of forethought, there isn’t actually enough proper office space.] 

The second picture is our building from the outside. I’m guessing it’s one of the older buildings, possibly an original, and probably an old main building since there’s an ugly stone on the other side. (As you can see from the third picture, which is from the opposite side to the second, some aesthetically minded person decided to try and hide the rock with some plants.)

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wuxi_school06The new school buildings, which are very new indeed as the left-hand picture attests, look like this, and probably bear an outward resemblance to the original school buildings. There are some older new buildings (newer old buildings?) if you go round the back and look for them and if you go far enough, you’ll find Mr McGregor’s nursery, where he cultivates mint, marigolds, and marijuana marjoram. 

wuxi_xihui01 But as the weary explorer rounded the corner, suddenly, there through the trees was a gap and framed in it, a scene from Old Cathay, the pagoda in 锡惠公园, constructed as long ago as 1985. Who knows how many lovers threw themselves from it in despair because China had no (well, privately owned) VCRs at the time and they’d missed the final episode of 红楼梦? Who knows what famous photographer (called Mr Bamboo) ascended its precarious steps and took pictures from it? Who knows what pious words have echoed up from the temple? (♫And the Chinese know – o-way-o – they walk the line like Egyptian♫)

A dull imitation of nature


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When I looked out of the window this morning at obscenely early o’clock, the sun, a red disk, was rising over the buildings and subtly illuminating the ripples of cloud which was spread across the sky. The scene, a Kodak moment, came out on my camera as an insipid representation of what I had seen with the naked eye.

In the first picture, the sun was filtered through the haze, which gave it that red look. In the second picture, taken a little later, it was brightening up, giving more definition to the clouds. It’s a pity that the first picture failed to capture what I saw. It was also nice to see it, but why can’t we have sunrise at a respectable hour?