Better Days – 26th January 2023

We didn’t ask to be born into this world
Those felt like better days before
If you don’t get fucked from the right
You’ll be fucked from the left for sure
And just who is going to protect us?
A guardian angel, out of the blue?
A fall guy descends into hell
So that you can live your life true?
It can never be as clear as that
Time and guilt will take their toll
Will justice find better days again
To find a freedom for us all?

inspired by the Chinese movie Better Days

She’s An Egg – 31st December 2022

She’s an egg, putting on a face
A tough nut, that’s a fact
She needs some love and kindness
Or she’s bound to end up cracked
She’s an egg amongst many others
One mistake may lead to ruin
When the shell starts to break open
She may be her own undoing
She’s an egg, hidden away inside
Soft and so easy to rot
Let some air in to breathe
Before she gets herself forgot


A nation of lazy contemplative men would be incapable of fighting a war unless their very laziness were attacked. Wars are the activities of busy-ness.

John Steinbeck

Today I’m feeling:
Gurgling guts, sore tummy and tired from lack of sleep, though it’s not getting me down. Just write off the day catching up with videos I’ve wanted to watch.
Today I’m grateful for:
The carbon pills and electrolyte powder to help settle my stomach. These are a standard in every Thai household first aid kit. Bad guts and diarrhoea are pretty common here.
The best thing about today was:
Buying new socks. Some days it’s the simple things.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
My ass was out of control today and I handled it by being lazy and lethargic and being close to the toilet in case of an emergency. Shit happens.
Something I learned today?
Thailand imports trash especially since China banned importation in 2017 but since it has such difficulty dealing with it will slowly phase out bringing in more by 2025. That’s the plan but I can foresee things getting in the way of that target.
What’s your New Year’s Resolution or goal?
I haven’t done new year’s resolutions for many years, discovering how difficult they are to maintain. Why choose this date? If you’ve failed with them by the end of January maybe you feel bad for the rest of the year or just wait til the next new year to start again. I’ve had more success with just starting things at times that felt right or were appropriate. I also never beat myself up if these things get derailed and just do my best to get back on track.

I took this picture because this is some awesome Lardna at a restaurant Amy took me to for lunch. I have a dodgy stomach today so couldn’t coat it with all the condiments I would’ve liked but it still tasted great. I don’t usually take food pictures and this is a relatively normal picture but it was either this or another cat photo!

I asked AI to take the Lardna image and make it into a manga image – hence the featured (yet unrelated otherwise!) manga picture.

Young Buds March On Pretty – 24th December 2022

Why is this time dead?
A month to end the year
When will the winter wane
And snowfalls start to clear?
Eternal hope for spring
Give us one more go
Young buds march on pretty
Running beyond the slow
Why is December dying
And January a start?
Run no more towards the sun
Temper your beating heart


Darkness must fall before we are aware of the majesty of the stars above our heads.

Stefan Zweig

Today I’m feeling:
Tired, dizzy but in an ok mood.
Today I’m grateful for:
Amy’s friends to take her up to Doi Chang overnight for a drunken adventure.
The best thing about today was:
Finding an interesting youtube channel of a Chinese girl travelling from Europe to China. It’s nice to see this kind of video from a non-western perspective.
Another thing was my old student Baitoey sending me a recording of her playing an online kalimba. She played Happy Birthday and wanted me to hear it. That was very nice of her and I appreciated it.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
I wasn’t sure when Amy would be coming down from the mountain. She called at 10 am and it seemed like it would be early afternoon but it turned out to be around 6pm and by that time she was drunk already and we had to get through some shopping at Makro. She was in a good happy mood and I just let her be herself and everything was groovy.
Something I learned today?
From watching the youtube mentioned above I got a quick tour around the small Chinese city of Guangde in Anhui and it made me want to go there.
Jot down the first thing that comes to your mind.
The tune to We Three Kings as I was just playing it on guitar. It didn’t sound terrible!

I took this picture because this is the view from my afternoon position at Utopia because it’s busier than the morning and my usual table isn’t available. For afternoon coffee I drink a Dirty, a creamy milk with a shot on top, with chocolate shavings.

Recognition Of Reality – 22nd December 2022

Am I sitting down yet?
Are my feet touching the floor?
No recognition of reality
Is it worth existing anymore
Am I breathing air?
Is blood pumping through my veins?
No recognition of a life itself
No usefulness remains

*inspired by a story from Seneca


You determine the quality of your mind by the nature of your daily thoughts.

Robert Greene, Daily Laws

Today I’m feeling:
Happy but a little on edge
Today I’m grateful for:
Our air fryer which nicely cooked the Hainan ginger fake chicken I ate for dinner with rice and cucumber (to counter the hot chilli sauce dressing). Amy has made me 3 servings to freeze for when she has gone too. I suppose I could learn to use the fryer too but I just don’t bother cooking by myself.
The best thing about today was:
Undoubtedly, both my classes which I took a very relaxed attitude towards whilst still having the kids semi-engaged with activities. Even the kids that get annoyed with me did some work and seemed to enjoy what we were doing. Some days I love them all. Today was one of those days. Tomorrow should be too. One class making Christmas cards and another two just doing online quizzes and then it’s the weekend again (finally – last night I thought it would be Friday today until I realised it wouldn’t and felt the energy drain out of me!)
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Amy is grumpy today, maybe PMT, so I’m trying to not bite at her and let it pass. I’m not always successful and she got angry when I misheard her about something and reacted badly. I let it blow over and apologised for misunderstanding and just tried to carry on as if nothing happened. I don’t think we’ll have good communication for the rest of the night, so let it lie and wake up tomorrow to a brand new sunny day, or at least we get to start again.
Something I learned today?
Hayden has Covid again. Hopefully, it’s not as bad as the first time and he recovers soon. I messaged Ellen too, who I haven’t been in contact with for about six months and since China relaxed their lockdown policy a couple of weeks ago, she and many of her clients got Covid too. I think China’s tough covid policy was the best way to deal with it and hopefully, now the virus is weaker there will be fewer deaths from infections. It’s amazing to me that other countries didn’t take it as seriously.
What tattoo do you want and where would you put it?
The next tattoo I get will be some Cardiacs lyrics on my right calf. I also want to get a Boognish tattoo but not quite sure where yet. Still thinking about the weird Trumans Water Spasm Smash cover too.

I took this picture because there’s spiders living in the trees!

Straight Outta Dumpton – 8th June 2022

All the pretty boys tucked up in bed
Curfew imposed on their father’s behalf
Fingers for guns, hide behind the pillows
Dying the best to make your friends laugh
Six months of schooling in the forest
You must make enemies into friends
The kind of which you’d die for
And on who your life depends
The hierarchy is understood
Cigarettes smuggled in by sir
Dirty mags and your dirty rags
A room of raging hormones stir
No belles allowed to distract
Weekend casuals made from tweed
The only hunt is on for foxes
The only entertainment a boy should need
A world apart outside the fence
The stinking farmer chuckles
A future built on manors born
On shiny boots and polished buckles

Dumpton was a boarding school near where I lived as a teenager and it was a place of some mystery to all us hooligans in the village. I think Murray befriended someone there one time but information was scarce on what went on there. I assumed it was a place for the toffs to send their kids for an education in preparation for a life of shooting pheasants and marrying princesses.

Very occasionally the gate was open onto the school estate and we risked being chased by angry masters and irate snobby teenagers as we rode our bikes through the grounds just to be nosy and as a shortcut to the main road and the streams that fed into the river.

Checking maps on my old haunts it looks like the school has since moved a few miles closer to town (Wimborne). Thinking about these times brings back the smells and emotions of them. The innocence of youth; open minds, enquiring into anything and everything curious.

History (via Wikipedia)

The school was founded as a boys’ preparatory school at Dumpton Park in Kent in 1903 and evacuated to Cranborne Chase in Dorset to avoid bombing raids at the outset of the Second World War, (as were many schools from south-east England).

In 1945, the school moved to Gaunt’s House, near Wimborne, and flourished under the Headmastership of Colonel Trevor Card. Unusually, the dormitories were named in memory of former pupils who had died on active service; (these included Cock, Pollard, Brown, York, Dutton and Fanshawe). Trevor Card was succeeded by Messrs Carter and Monkhouse as joint heads in 1958, and subsequently by Major General Frank Thompson.

In 1988 the school moved again to its present site at Dean’s Grove House nearer to Wimborne.

Well, this shows that the school moved whilst I was still living around the area although by then most of us kids had moved on from hanging around the village now we were old enough to ride motorbikes and drive cars.


If you don’t respect the way China has been able to pull so many of its people out of extreme poverty, and don’t get why such actions would cause such unified support for their government, it’s simply because you lack and adequate understanding of the anguish of extreme poverty.

Caitlin Johnstone

Poems on this day – 5th July 2021

Another Week

Another week is here
Another Monday of fun
How many have I seen?
How many more to come?
Time runs away from me
I can’t keep up these days
On the downward spiral
Running out of plays
Lazy summer Sundays
Now filled to overflowing
Oh, to be bored again
With no idea where I’m going
Regret no past mistakes
It was all a knowledge to seek
Savour every living moment
So begins another week

Uprooted

Uprooted from all you know
At the age of just sixteen
Still growing into your world
But following your parent’s dream
A better life is on it’s way
Though you may not see it yet
Take up this challenge
Make the most of what you get

I’m teaching a sixteen year old student who is moving with her parents from China to Australia. A tough time for someone that age.

Four Rats

Four rats run around Tokyo
Stealing all her food and drink
Too slow in her reactions
Those rats are smarter than you think
Sniffing the air in excitement
Whiskers twitching from their keep
In the drains and shadowy corners
Whilst Tokyo remains asleep

Tokyo is my friend’s pup, the sneaky rats are well fed!

谁他妈抽了我的中南海? – 26th February 2020

“a parent catching her child with cigarettes and forcing him to smoke the whole pack.”

Despite my father dying of lung cancer when I was a baby, my mother kept smoking for another 15 to 20 years after, then gave up in her early 60s and lived for another 20 years, though she suffered from COPD in the last 5 or so years which restricted her a lot.

I grew used to her smoking though I actually have no real memory of her puffing on a cigarette. Of course it was only natural her naughty son would steal an occasional cigarette, find a way to light it and go off down the end of the garden and practice smoking. I could be an adult too.

It was a great game. Waiting for my mother to leave her packet unattended, gradually sneaking a couple more each time. I was never caught but I’m guessing she knew. When I had upgraded to smoking in my bedroom I would get caught once or twice and my mum just tutted and asked where I got the cigarettes from to which I would guiltily lie. She couldn’t really say much without looking like a hyprocrite.

I also upgraded to stealing my grandfather’s beer which he kept stored in an outdoor shed. I loved the feeling alcohol gave me. I also remember being able to open my gullet so the liquid went straight down without gulping. A talented 13 year old I was becoming.

When my mum gave up smoking I had already started earning my own money and had developed my own addiction. I was proud of her giving up. I still hated myself too much to try. It wasn’t until much later when my son was born that I eventually stopped and that took a huge effort. At that point I was still secretly smoking at work and stuffing down packets of mints so my wife wouldn’t detect it. But eventually I stopped.

I still have dreams about that and sometimes I hit lucidity within the dream and wonder about the fact that I still smoke sometimes. It’s a weird feeling. I really hate the smell of burning cigarettes now and try to avoid going to bars and restaurants where smoking is permitted, something which is still common throughout Asia.

If the Chinese want to make a silent protest towards their government they should surely quit smoking and stop that tax money ending up in the pockets of their leaders! But cigarettes are like a handshake there, a different cultural definition.

Anyways, I was never forced to smoke a whole pack of cigarettes fortunately, though everyone knew the story of some kid that it had been forced upon. Did it ever happen or is it just urban legend?

This is England….

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful that I could quickly get over an injustice towards me.
I am so happy and grateful that I don’t have to teach today because the students are doing exams.

We got that attitude! – 26th September 2019

Yesterday I showed some resilience. Small things upset me in the morning and everything felt overwhelming again. After school, I went to the dentist. I think sitting under the drill settled me down again. At home, Amy was quite negative about being here in Thailand but I was the one telling her things aren’t that bad. I realised I had some strength and resilience I need to draw on more.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful that other people have shown an interest in working with me. It shows me that I am valued for my contributions.

Gratitude Journal

Today I’m looking forward to a job interview with another school. I’m looking forward to Hayden coming to visit in a couple of weeks’ time. My friend, Ellen, will also visit from China with lots of yummy Sichuan sauce. I’m looking forward to getting away from some people in this school where I work. I’m looking forward to time hanging around at home with Amy and our friends. I’m looking forward to the cooler weather of winter. Damn! I’m looking forward to a lot of things.

23rd Feb 2021 – Looking back on this looking forward is interesting. Some of the things I was looking forward to, didn’t necessarily turn out for the best but it was definitely the right way to approach all those things. I know some folks who anticipate the worst of the future and then feel pleasantly surprised when things turn out better than expected. I think I used to be like that but not these days. I’m much more of the thinking that even difficult tasks, events and situations are just occurrences and they will be over after a certain period of time regardless of what my thoughts are about them.

Let’s talk about luck, right? Let’s talk about it – 27th May 2018

The words contained in the title are not particularly related to the content of this post beyond the fact they are words I couldn’t get out of my head for these 4 weeks of study.

After my last post, some people on the course asked me what I was going to write in this one.  Which made me curious about what I would actually write and what people would think.  When a group of 30 or more people are shoved together for 4 weeks there’s going to be some drama.  In fact, there wasn’t really that much, to be honest.  We were – mostly – adults.

As new faces started appearing on the weekend, our peaceful processing of all things grammar quickly faded to distant regions of the brain.  By Sunday evening the place was abuzz with faces from across the globe.  It was quick to see that there was one Muslim group and another Chinese group of people.  They were all split across separate smaller groups on the first day, though that didn’t mean they didn’t stick together at most other times.  This caused some minor divides but about two-thirds of us were from other places and we all mixed together well enough.  It became apparent to me fairly quickly that it was good to talk to as many people as possible to get different points of view and different ideas – this made the idea of sticking in your little clique seem slightly self-defeating though it was an obvious comfort.

The Muslim group introduced themselves early on.  They were a group of teachers from Pakistan, seemingly lead by one, who we found out later was more a department head rather than teacher herself.  She asked if we like Thailand, to which we confirmed, only to be told that Pakistan is better.  As they walked off, she called back “Don’t mind me, I’m a jolly one!” which I thought rather odd and cute.

It worried me that there was a high percentage of teachers on this course.  Surely they would have a real advantage over those of us with no experience at all.  Thankfully they were given the task of teaching before the rest of us, which at least gave us an extra day preparation.  I also gave us a view of how other teachers go about their work.

So it was that on the second evening of the course we would watch the experienced teachers perform.  Whilst having nothing to compare with, I was mostly just concentrating on things that I saw that I thought I could use myself.  The following evening would be my turn and as I prepared during the night time and that morning I soon found the templates we could use to plan our lessons.  Although not needed at this stage it was obvious to me that they were useful guidance even not knowing how to fill them correctly.  I also made good use of the internet to see how previous students had done things and found valuable resources that would help with the assignments too.  Most of these were posted without comment so there was no clue as to whether they were good/correct or not but they at least provided ideas for the way to do things.  The CELTA folks are also pretty on the ball about plagiarism so straight copying would have been no benefit anyway.

During the daytime we were attended our own classes to learn all about the processes and skills needed to perform to meet the course requirements.  This is where I think that having no previous teaching experience was a benefit as starting with a clean slate was easier to deal with.  Experienced teachers were being asked to unlearn their methods and also they could see that the methods they were being taught may not be useful in their own environments, hindering their motivations somewhat.

So I opened my brain and let everything in and quickly adjusted to the tempo of the course.  The third evening was my turn to teach and despite sweaty palms and stuttering heart rate I went really well considering it was the first time I had ever done such a thing.  I could see that a well prepared plan made for a successful lesson so knew that this was where I should be concentrating my energies.  From here on out I enjoyed the planning and thinking about ways to improve my lessons based on what we were being taught each day.  And we were being taught a lot.

Again, I quickly surmised that there was no way we could learn, remember and incorporate everything we were being taught.  Based on feedback after each lesson you were advised what needed to be improved so it made sense to concentrate on that.

But then came the assignments. Each week a new assignment with ever decreasing deadlines.  They really interfered with lesson preparations, especially if you had to resubmit them as I had to on two of the four.  But again, it was apparent that there was no penalty for resubmission so it made sense to do your best for the first submission and follow the advice provided for the second.  This at least gave an extra few days here and there.

Everyone was warned at the beginning of the course that they would have to deal with critical feedback during the four weeks and some didn’t handle it so well.  I think I had a somewhat blasé attitude to the course after the first week.  After the initial stresses, reassurances from Amy to just do my best, and fairly positive feedback from my colleagues as well as our tutors I ended up concentrating on the end date and when it would all be completed and I would have my CELTA certificate.  This enabled me to cope with criticism of my teaching in a positive way.  After all, we were being told these things so that we could improve and ultimately so that we could pass the course.  Our teachers were obviously trying to help us, without spoon feeding us.

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At one point, one of the teachers from Pakistan complained to me that they weren’t being taught anything and that they were just being given advice on where to look to go and find out things for themselves.  Their background shows this method of teaching where someone stands at the front of class and tells the students A is A and B is B.  This is how they were taught (pretty much how I was taught too) and this is how they teach.

What was particularly surprising about the comment was that just 10 minutes before, everyone had agreed that this method wasn’t the best way for students to learn.  Being guided to discover the solutions for yourselves is generally a better way to retain learning.  At this point I realised that I could be a teacher.  If some of the people I met on the course were already teachers with years of experience I found myself thinking I could easily do a better job than them.  Whether I actually can or not in the future remains to be seen.  At least all these things put me at ease.

I was dealing with the stress of everything well enough, even as experienced teachers started coming to me for assistance with their plans and assignments.  The 50m swimming pool outside my window often begged my attendance but I rarely got chance to use it again.  I also found the best folks amongst my colleagues to ask for advice and guidance when needed.  One in particular, Iranian, London girl, Hedie stood out with her calm and methodical approach to everything, even as everyone around was in a spiral stress ball.  I was also lucky that she was teaching the same subjects as myself so we could understand and advise each other about approaches and develop ideas, whilst not just copying them directly.  Our own teachers were also very supportive with this and at one point our teacher jokingly challenged us to teach a lesson without speaking at all.  Fortuitously my next lesson seemed to fit the bill and when I told that I planned to have 0% speaking time she pulled me up and said she was only joking and that it would be really weird to not talk at all!  My hopes for the challenge slightly dashed I did however manage to keep my talking time around 10% and the class was brilliant.  I was really starting to get into the groove by this point and continued to push myself constantly, rising to the teachers challenges for the final lesson of the course, which unfortunately saw me come undone.  It was a slight bummer to end the 4 weeks on a less than positive lesson but again, I didn’t want to take the easy option and was just trying to push myself further.  All good learning experience.

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So it was, by the last day, everyone was now more relaxed and looking forward to their next adventures, whether continuing traveling or returning to teaching.  We headed into the city to partake in some alcohol, something I had purposely been avoiding this 4 weeks, but for me I couldn’t shake the sudden lack of stresses which resulted in a tired lethargy that saw me bow out earlier than the rest.

The final morning as a few of us walked up the road for a big breakfast I got a sudden feeling of Stockholm Syndrome.  I didn’t want to leave.  This place had been my life, fully consumed, for 4 weeks and now it was a return to reality.  That reality was now uncertain.  My head still spinning with 3rd conditionals and how to make a good reading lesson I would be thrust back into the world of gardening and job hunting.

There were many more stories, much more gossip and a whole host of feelings skipped over in this writing.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to approach this post and with time marching ever onward I wanted to get these words down before the memories fade further.

And the title of the post?  Some folks worked their way through their stress with meditation, relaxing music and yoga, some with alcohol.  I don’t know why, but the abrasive noise of Circus Lupus and Chris Thompson’s screaming put me right in the frame for writing lesson plans into the early hours.  Their two albums will now and forever be associated with this time.

“We’re all good people, all my people, just sitting around, drowned in sound,                        Open your eyes………                                                                                                                              Ennnnnnnd.”

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Defanged and declawed – 16th January 2018

As I was walking from my desk to the kitchen in the office, I got this sudden urge to kick a football.  I almost took a swing at invisible ball mid-stride.  Do you know that feeling when the ball strokes your foot at the perfect point and shoots off ferociously towards an imaginary goal, avoiding the desperate stretch of the imaginary keeper?  Since school days I mostly did this by myself against a brick wall.  When I’m settled in Thailand again I’ll have to get a football and then all I’ll need is the brick wall.

I was on the school football team from middle school until I left high school, aged 16.  I was pretty passionate about it for a while there.  Actually, I was passionate about it until I came to Australia really.  There wasn’t much of a league going on at that time and there were no live games or much in the way of replays from England then either.  I got interested in cricket for a while, especially as Australia couldn’t lose a game for trying for a while there.  But Australian Rules football ended up being my new passion, but that’s another story.

In middle school, the best players from years 1 and 2, and from years 3 and 4 would make up the school teams.  This was a big honour if you were in the lower year of the two but, as is the way of school kids, everyone stuck to just being friendly with kids in their year.  Even though you had the privilege to play with the older kids against other schools, no one talked to you.

In the summer break between years 3 and 4, I had been picked to go to a soccer selection camp but as the date drew nearer I lost my nerve and told my mum I was too sick to go.  I’m not sure why I felt like this now.  Was I too shy, too scared, too insecure?  It’s possible I missed a great opportunity and my football coach at school was disappointed when I told him I didn’t attend.  I’d like to say I paid him back by helping us win every game and scoring lots of goals that year but to be honest I can’t remember now.

In high school, I maintained a place in the team as the centre-forward but I recall us losing more games than we won.  I don’t recall scoring too often either.  The worst, although possibly the best, memory is when we played another school that just didn’t give a shit. We tried so hard and they just kept kicking the ball back and laughing at everything we did and everything they did too.  They cracked up at each other’s mistakes and unbelievably ended up beating us something like 3 goals to 2.  I think I knew it was over then.  Football wasn’t for me.  Particularly as my only other memory is playing in a hail storm and though we stopped the game, there was nowhere to hide as those painful little pellets peppered our faces and legs.  Fuck that for a game of football.

Our inter-school games were on Saturdays and I used to ride my bicycle the 4 miles to town and then up the hill to school.  It was around this time I started getting into music very seriously.  Our tiny local record store, which still thrives to this day, would attempt to track down rare imports from America for me.  I would bring them lists of records I’d heard about in borrowed copies of Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll or that were occasionally mentioned in Sounds or NME.  I can’t clearly remember the day picking up Bad Brains 12″ on Alternative Tentacles and Black Flag’s ‘Damaged’ album on Unicorn.  Our football game was in the late morning this day and I picked up these records before riding up to school.  It was a bit of an annoyance to have to lug them around with me but I was so excited I couldn’t help looking at the covers as we travelled on the bus to our away game.

I recall nothing about the football game that day and know that when I got home I would hide the records under my shirt as my mother was sure to ask where I got the money from to buy them.  Well, mum, that lunch money you gave me….  never had a lunch in the whole 3 years I was in high school.  I would beg and borrow pennies from my friends and just eat a couple of lollies from the ice cream van.  This may explain why I became such a skinny-ass weakling and my lack of enthusiasm for playing sports so much around this time.

Those two records I bought that day had such a huge impact on me.  Black Flag spoke directly to me somehow, even though they were singing about getting beatings from the LAPD and I was sulking because my mother made me do my homework.  ‘No More’, ‘Room 13’, ‘Depression’, ‘Padded Cell’, the intensity, the passion, the violence!  I was 15 at the time – hearing those songs now will take me right back to then.

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With Indian ink, a needle and the aid of a mirror I tattooed myself the bars, smart enough not to reverse them in the reflection.  It wasn’t until years later in Australia that I got them tattooed properly and they sit proudly on my upper right arm, a reminder of who I am and where I am now.

I did a whole bunch of my own tattoos with a simple needle and ink, though all but a few have been covered over with more professional art since.  I was partly inspired by a heavy metal girl at school whose name I now forget.  She was mad as fuck, not to be messed with and had ‘666’ tattooed on her forehead, though hidden by her ginger hair.  I later heard she became a born-again Christian though I’m guessing that might’ve been someone’s idea of a joke.

My own dodgy work, including ‘LIFE IS PAIN, I WANT TO BE INSANE’ (again Black Flag-inspired, more specifically a tattoo that adorns their singer Henry Rollins) seems to have served me quite well in some instances.  Whilst they might’ve been a reason for a beating when I was younger, these days it tends to keep people at bay and an indicator not to mess with me.  Which is amusing because I generally will run a mile from any trouble anyway.  I’m also a pretty friendly guy too.  These days I tend to actually like people.

Thinking about tattoos also reminds me of a couple of experiences in China.  The first I was walking through some back allies in Beijing, just enjoying the experience of being lost.  I ended up a small square with just a couple of older folks around.  One guy was pulling a cart along and stopped to look at me out of curiosity.  As I got closer he reached out and grabbed my arm and just ran his hand up and down my tattoo, laughing in wonder.  I laughed with him for a minute before we both went on our way, realising we had no other form of communication to take this encounter any further.

The other time I was travelling with a bunch of Aussies from all walks of life, as part of a dragon boat team.  One of the ladies was an Occupational Health and Safety officer, hard to say how old she was, but she seemed much older than me.  Even now, I feel most of the people I meet are older than me, perhaps a refusal to believe that I am not in my early 20s anymore.  This lady looked at my tattoos and started asking questions about them and then finished the conversation with ‘You’ll regret them when you’re older.’  I was 41 at the time.

My tattoos are my own historical document.  Memories for me to consider, a past to ponder.  Anyway, as I often tell people, ‘They come off when you die.’

Amy is getting excited and it’s infectious.  We have some locals building our fences and as we’ve given them no time frame they’ve arranged themselves a party table in our garden where they can kick back after a days work with BBQ and whisky.  Apparently, around 5pm cool breezes waft across the valley and it’s a perfect indicator that it’s time for a relaxing icy cold drink of your preference.

The Burmese builders have finished building their shacks and have also set themselves up a party table, though for them it’s also their breakfast, lunch and dinner table.  Our house is a party house before it’s even complete.  I get the feeling the locals might still come around to party after they’ve finished here too.

Amy is choosing wall paint colours, inside and out and looking more seriously at bathroom fittings now.  It’s exciting, though as we discuss, a little weird as almost everything should be complete by the time I get there.  I can just breeze in and go to bed in a brand new home.  I hope, anyway.