To The Wolves – 9th December 2022

The wolves are gathering
Circling their prey
Armed with razor claws
Wet teeth on display
Surrounded by enemies
Fallen down ill
Fears turned to acceptance
Of the coming kill
Hot breath drinks blood
Flesh torn and ripped
Life flows away
Once so tightly gripped
Now the hunger sated
Left in the soft snow
The body reconciles
The way we all go

The future of the human race will likely depend on our ability to transcend this tribalism and to see our fate as interconnected with everyone else’s.

Robert Greene

Today I’m feeling:
Happy and relaxed
Today I’m grateful for:
The confusion caused with communication in our school as there was a meeting in the afternoon that meant we didn’t have classes. It was not clear if we were supposed to attend this meeting, along with all the students and there was enough confusing information that it meant I could sneak away, come home and have a nice afternoon nap! I can see my attitude to miscommunication is positive when the outcome works in my favour like this and luckily in this part of the school everything generally works out like this. This was not the case in our other schools.
The best thing about today was:
Listening to the Pitchblende album at high volume after Amy went out for the night and I ate a weed gummy. I always liked Pitchblende and their music is not easy to latch on to. Last night took it to the next level. If I hadn’t been getting sleepy I would’ve listened to the whole album again. As it was I hopped into bed and fell asleep listening to the jazzcore podcast which was also terrific.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
As I was driving dad’s van back from our Mae Chan dinner, all the u-turns were closed off by police, which happens when a member of the royal family comes to visit Doi Tung and they want the motorcade to be able to smoothly pass on through. This meant we couldn’t make our exit for the last 200 metres home and we were instructed to pull over to the left and turn our lights off and wait for it to pass. Amy was a little frustrated and said “fucking stupid” and her dad was annoyed at where I pulled over and wanted to move 5 metres forward but everyone told him it doesn’t matter though by this time he’d jumped out of the car indicating he was going to drive now. He got back in the passenger seat and I was just bemused by everything. Amy’s dad has some weird reactions sometimes and I don’t get it at all. I can’t see any connection between the way Thai kids react and the way he does. It’s like an alien mindset to me that I just can’t understand. It seems to be cultural but most reactions I can see some sense in but sometimes his are just bizarre. I’m curious about how his thinking works! Anyway, I agree with Amy that it’s fucking stupid to inconvenience so many people like this (hundreds and hundreds of police have to stand around for up to six hours preparing for this)but there doesn’t need to be a reaction to it. In the end, we only had to wait a few minutes and I calmly sat and waited until we could go again and we were home without too much delay.
Something I learned today?
I’m writing this on Saturday morning and recalling events of yesterday and I know there are many small things I learned in passing, by reading, talking and interacting but nothing is stepping forward to announce itself right now. It’s one of those days of learning whilst not knowing you’re learning. Accumulating knowledge, stored in the brain bank and used subconsciously. Today I will try to be more conscious.
In what ways are you good at your job?
I’m good at my job in that I can make the students feel like they are having fun whilst learning a little. I come up with ideas for classes and I try to gauge my student’s feelings and abilities and help them when I can. I’m flexible, patient and understanding. Really these are not specific skills for my job of being a teacher but more for life. Life is my real job. Am I good at that? I’m still a student in that regard and hope to always be.

I took this picture because Cap was super chilled and sunk into the sofa, lost in his fur. No new pictures today so this is a default fallback cat pic!

Rose-Tinted Tears – 21st November 2022

Not understanding consequences
The future impossibly vast
Fire the only guide
With no lesson from the past
Naivety is nature
For kitten and the pup
A world set in wonder
To drink from this cup
Bitter-tasting tears
Wiped from cheeks so red
Whispered-coated rumours
Of words perhaps not said
Blind lead blind in battles
Swords laid to the heart
Voices deepen in anguish
As the youth set to depart
Wisdom-thickened skin
Hardened by the aches
Practised and repeated
Then learned from those mistakes
Where did they go
Those sadder lonely days?
Reminders of a time
Enjoyed in so many ways.

The truth I believe is that silence – like darkness – is a little unnerving but unlike darkness, the apprehension comes not from the fact that it conceals but in that it reveals.

Thomas J Bevan

Today I’m feeling:
Exhausted, a little happy but a little down.
Today I’m grateful for:
Amy being back in the kitchen and cooking up a storm. Before we got home we went shopping and found some vegan pork belly cubes and Amy cooked them and they were delicious.
The best thing about today was:
Chilling at House after a reasonable first-thing morning class. The kids were fairly well-behaved and most got their work done. I got a few things done whilst drinking coffee and enjoyed relaxing.
What book are you reading right now?
Quite a few different ones but the main one is 100 Selected Stories by Anton Chekov. Only just started yesterday but the first two stories were great.

I took this picture because everyone loves a chilled dopey dog. Tokyo can get pretty bitey but I’ve learned to keep her happy and she’s often found like this.

Squash – 18th November 2022

Some days feel so full of lack
And nothing goes right at all
Remember that you’ll be bouncing back
Just like a small black rubber ball

It is only when you meet someone of a different culture from yourself that you begin to realise what your own beliefs really are.

George Orwell, The Road To Wigan Pier

Today I’m feeling:
Good but a little frustrated.
Today I’m grateful for:
The couple of orders I received for tenzenmen products after a quick promo post a couple of days ago. I don’t sell much these days but I appreciate everyone who shows interest.
The best thing about today was:
Playing with Tangmo with the rope as I went off to the post office and market and him proudly running off and presenting the rope to the aunties back home. When I came back I rode up and collected it from auntie Sue and we both chuckled. Tangmo had gone off in search of other adventures by that time.
Daily thought
How are you going to remember to keep fighting when the storm is around you? Running away is the easy option and sometimes serves a purpose but how are you to calm yourself down in the heat of the moment and carry on?
What is your “grit” word?
A ‘grit’ word? Is this a thing now? A word to remind yourself to keep going? I could have done with that today. After leaving my class early because I was annoyed by the attitude of some students, I talked with Saipan later (she is one of the smarter, motivated ones) and told her I wasn’t happy with the classes behaviour today and she just looked at me and said ‘keep fighting ‘ like she was a wise old auntie. Keep fighting or ‘su-su’ in Thai is what everyone says to a complaint and in my mind, there’s an underlying implication of ‘shut up and get on with it.’ Maybe this is my grit word.

Someone took this picture because they need a friendly foreign face for the school promotional material and it was my turn. I seem to be looking off to the side but at least my eyes are open! The girl is JubJib, a smart one in my class who I can’t really teach as her skills far surpass many of the other students whose level I have to teach to.

Tattooed – 28th October 2022

*What is the purpose of my body
If not as an expression of my pain?*
I can feel the relief of new violence
As I plan to get tattooed again

*quoting Tarzan Kay

As soon as want and illusion come to a standstill, the utter barreness and emptiness of existence becomes apparent.

paraphrase Schopenhauer

Today I’m feeling:
Today I’m grateful for:
A practice run of going back to school. I didn’t think we’d have much to do today so wasn’t surprised when I found there was no one around. I could’ve just gone straight home but went to House for coffee and then Oasis for food and got back around eleven. Next week though and it will all become too real again!
The best thing about today was:
Finishing Titus Alone so I can prepare to pack the trilogy up and post back to Sharon, who incidentally wrote me a happy birthday email today too.
How curious are you?
Generally, I’m pretty curious about things though I’m conscious that may be decreasing as I get older and my mind atrophies or that I already know it all. Having been endlessly curious in the early 2000s perhaps my experiences since then make me feel like I know enough. More general knowledge can be applied across many topics and I can be less curious about the details.

I took this picture because this highly symbolic picture is me eating my own head. It was the best part of the cake.

Laugh Or Cry – 31st August 2022

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry
I don’t know, who, when, what or why
Spent my days in endless frustration
A victim of a worthless education
Now I’m at school on the other side
All the things I learned being applied
And frustrated kids look up with empty eyes
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry

The people who get on in theis world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.

George Bernard Shaw

Today I’m grateful for:
Being able to share my abundant fruits with other people. The papaya is delicious but I can’t eat six of them!
The best thing about today was:
A quick ride along back roads and tracks to Bruno’s reminded me of times riding my motorbike in Dorset as a teenager. The green overhanging fauna down dirty muddy tracks and lanes. The smell of fresh oxygen mixed with distant smoky garden fires. I was transported, if only for a moment.

I took this picture because I found these two ‘good boys’ far from their home on my morning walk and they followed me all the way back.

Babysitters Club – 20th August 2022

If it’s not fulfilling is it worth it to stay?
When teaching is just babysitting and play
No discipline instilled yet everyone a star
A photo opportunity is all that we are

Life only ever ends in death. What’s to find along the way… except what I’ve already found? Why go anywhere to look for yourself when it’s yourself doing the looking?

Judge Anderson, Judge Dredd Megazine

Shoes For Goal Posts – 3rd June 2022

It’s a fight, start with prayers
There’s lies, confusion, disarray
Sweat pours off the walls
Nervous to find the words to say
Repeating mistakes made
The copiers made all look fools
Yes, it’s a war of words
This battle raging within schools
No guns, but iron wills
The only shots are stares
Rewards a-long time coming
And not for the one that cares
Giving up is a sort of option
Answers found on a plate
Rescues become failures
Too impatient to sit and wait
One day the fighting ends
Everyone found to survive
It’s time to start on dying
And forget the time alive

An ESL teacher’s reminiscence for school days.

Lie to people who want to be lied to and you’ll get rich. Tell the truth to those who want the truth and you’ll make a living. Tell the truth to those who want to be lied to and you’ll go broke.

Jason Zweig

I’m making my case against a stack full of comics – 19th March 2021

At my school I made friends with four university students doing their internships here. They are young and vibrant people and have a youthful idealism that I still seem possess, so it was easy for me to be drawn to them.

Today is their last day with us (unless they decide to stay here and work on the pitiful wages they would receive) and I made them each a special card. Unfortunately I forget to take a picture of each card but the front features the sketches attached. None of them are perfect but they should be recognisable to themselves I hope!

I really enjoyed the process of putting the cards together and having to come up with ideas for me, somewhat inspired by Austin Kleon’s artistic trials.

Haiku’s for Teachers – 24th February 2021

For the end of term celebration dinner I thought it a nice idea to write a haiku for each of the teachers I work with – an artistic test for myself. I printed them on A4, laminated, cut, hole-punched and cut and tied ribbons on each. I enjoyed the whole process.

Kru Fluke

UNO champ, waiting
Watching the new Thai drama
Quiet achiever

For a while, at the end of the working day, teachers would gather to play UNO before heading home. Fluke would sit in quietly, watching some Thai drama series or other on her iPad at the same time. With a sweet and lovely smile she was a vicious backstabber when it came to the game and often won. It was best not to sit next to her round the table!

Kru JJ

Lipstick, mascara
You make it work, you go girl
Swing those hips wildly

All the male teachers in our building (and in most of the school) are gay and love getting dressed up for special events. They can be so spectacular and outrageous that it’s difficult not to get swept up in the occasion. JJ is, of course, one of them. A smart young guy who should’ve been born a girl.

Teacher Dylan

Sleepy ginger boy
Wake up; the world wants you now
So, wake the fuck up

Dylan is from Northern Ireland and is here in Chiang Rai along with his many brothers, cousins and other relatives I’m sure. The brothers look so alike that they find it difficult to meet girls that other members of the family have not already met, Chiang Rai being a pretty small town to start with. Anyway, Dylan arrives at school each day well before he has actually woken up and being young he attracts the most attention from the other similarly aged female teachers.

Kru KT

Silky voice, smooth tune
Loud and proud; but wait, what’s this
Big boy is sleeping

KT, or Kate, is another male teacher, though not quite as outrageous, he loves to sing loudly and play fight with the female teachers. He is a big (and big hearted) guy and because of this he has a problem where he stops breathing in his sleep so wakes up all through the night. This affects him at work as he often nods off, sometimes mid song. There are many pictures and videos of him snoring away.

Kru Champ

Stress, happiness, stress
Working hard for the future
Your reward will come

Champ is our hard working coordinator who gets a ton of (nonsensical) work dumped on him whilst also trying to implement things in a better way, hence his ever-swinging between stress and happiness. If efforts were truly rewarded in this world, he will achieve a lot. Lives with his boyfriend and supports the many LGBTQ+ kids in the school.

Kru Amp

Dance under the moon
The wolf is crazy; no sleep
Sleep when you are dead

Amp, along with First, JJ and Tee, was one of the student teachers from the local university. She taught Chinese and her English was the best when it came to speaking but her understanding was very good. So good that she could play along well with jokes and she loved having a fun time, especially dancing.

Kru First

Face reflects the moon
A laugh and smile; gone too soon
No more UNO now

First had a face that reminded me of a childhood story-book moon. A genuine personality and diligent worker it was sad to see her leave at the end of the term.

Kru Gratae

Love is in your heart
Impatient; where is the one?
Wait, don’t try so hard

Gratae is a loud, funny and self deprecating girl always looking for love advice from anyone. She is not so pretty on the outside but once you get to know her there is a sad vulnerability hidden there and when she is not hiding herself behind her defenses is a very nice person.

Kru Tee

Soft and gentle girl
Turns out tough; always goes hard
Life of the party

Tee introduced herself as ‘Tee, as in PART-TEE!’ She is a chubby happy girl that I believe hides her abilities and real personality. Very likable, I’m glad she has stayed on here as a teacher.

Kru Mai

Purposeful, thoughtful
Watch the students dance with joy
Always going forth

Mai has a striking looking feminine posture with a mushroom haircut. If you see him you will wonder what he is about. As far as I can tell he is a well respected teacher among the students, particularly as he will often play music and encourage dancing in his classes. Obviously he coordinates a lot of the stage show events the schools here seem to love. Mai is always the most outrageous cross dresser in the school. He is unrecognisable in a blonde wig and tight black dress.

Kru Aomsin

No accident stops
Her from happiness and play
Another round, yes?

Aomsin recently had a motorbike accident that smashed one of her front teeth but that didn’t get her down. She will always be the first to want to play UNO.

Kru China

Tag team with Gratae
Keep fighting, fighting today
Who talks the loudest?

China (pronounced Sheena) and Gratae appear to be best friends and once they are in a room together the volume is cranked to 11. This can be funny most times, but others, when trying to concentrate, becomes very distracting. One of China’s favourite phrases is to keep fighting.

Kru Feung Fah

A secret boyfriend
The sporty type? Shy? Humble?
Liaisons out of our sight

Feung Fah is a skinny, sporty girl that seeks to deny the fact she has a boyfriend for some reason. Her English is not the best but I can feel she has a good personality.

Teacher George

Good morning teacher
Big smile, warm welcome, let’s go

George greets everyone happily each morning, showing his face to let them know that he is here at school before quickly sneaking off to get coffee at his favourite cafe. Going out of school is not always accepted unless it is to the 7-11. So, whatever it is that needs to be done outside school, going to 7-11 is the default answer.