The photo shows a recent birth in Yunnan Province - a calf with two heads! Better than one, they say. Apparently it can eat with both mouths and seems none the worse for multiple eyes and ears! It does make you wonder what they put in the water, though!
After a month of waiting (despite an estimate of 15 working days for a decision) we were getting a little worried about Jiajia's UK visa application. But yesterday it finally arrived and we were happily able to ditch the various "Plan B"s! Ava had settled on the mindset of "if the British government don't want my money I will shop elsewhere!", but it's still quite a relief and we are all set for our trip to the UK in less than a month's time. Yippee!
...and talking of magazines (see last entry), I appeared in one myself yesterday, following my interview with a journalist a couple of weeks ago. I can't actually read what is written, but I'm told it's about teaching philosophy and giving students encouragement to open their mouths and risk making mistakes for the sake of their learning. All good stuff. The magazine is called "Young World" and I'm assured my appearance there isn't intended as ironic!
My school's foreign teachers, and the admin staff that support us, enjoyed a really nice evening at Robert and Rachel's (my bosses) house yesterday, despite heavy bursts of rain which put paid to any vague badminton plans (not that I could have played with my gouty foot). We shared a delicious BBQ, prepared by our hosts and Andrew (a foreign teacher who used to be a chef), and later played table tennis and various Wii games together. Really nice bunch of people - great fun.
This is the guy who kept me up last night. Cars had double-parked all down my road, causing traffic gridlock, while beams of light swept into the sky from the nearby stadium. Yes, the "world famous" (in China!) Hong Kong singer and actor, Jacky Cheung, was performing a rare Kunming concert. His insipid warbling and crooning could be heard easily from my kitchen, as could the cheers and roars of a packed crowd. Ava is a big fan (her mobile plays one of his songs), but couldn't justify the 2000RMB (£200) for a ticket. She could have sat by my fridge and sung along! By 11.30pm the gig was over followed by thousands of people streaming out of the stadium, shouting, singing and honking their horns. Peace has resumed this morning, thankfully!
It's that time of term again, when my evening adult classes draw to a close and the school braces itself for the doubling up of children's classes (presumably to deny the poor kids any chance of a break!). So last night was the end-of-course meal with the adults. Most of the regulars were there - a nice bunch of talented young adults [L to R: Arex, Rebecca, Linda, Andrew and Ava]. Andrew is off to study in America shortly, but the rest (except Ava!) are talking about continuing next term, which will be great.
Thanks to everyone who has been enquiring about my latest attack of gout. Whilst I'm still limping a bit, it's nowhere near as bad now as this time last week when I could barely walk (or sleep!). The picture above neatly illustrates my recent ills, with the big toe locking solid at its worst. With nearly all your weight directed through the base of your big toe, getting around can be really painful. As ever, kindly-meant but ultimately frustrating advice has been poured on me including eating lots of pumpkin, celery, flax seeds and cherries whilst drinking more coffee. And then to stop eating mushrooms, broccoli, beans, protein and sugar, whilst drinking less coffee. Take your pick! As my longsuffering wife often says, "Just eat potatoes and dust"!
More UFO activity reported in the outskirts of Kunming with three black dots hovering above the Songhua dam (the largest one circled here). The man who took the photo is reported as saying, "In the photo it looks like a butterfly", so I'm wondering if it was, perhaps, just a butterfly! However Zhang Yifang, the President of the Kunming UFO Research Society (yes, there is one) is quoted as saying, "It has the saucer-like shape of a UFO. I believe it is a UFO". So I guess it must be true!
I had a journalist interviewing me today for a magazine article on "Education in Kunming". She had to come to my flat as I'm still having trouble walking any distance since the latest gout attack at the weekend. After jotting down my pearls of wisdom, she asked for a recent photo. As we looked at some recent snaps on my computer, suddenly gasped and asked how I came to be photographed with "Cai Ming"!? I was a bit confused but it turns out that "Cai Ming" is a famous Chinese actress who bears an uncanny resemblance to my good wife! I could certainly tell them apart, but the shape of the face and the lips are certainly similar. And check out the earrings! What do you think?
Having kept a diary since 1977 I enjoy looking back over events on the same day in previous years. It sometimes helps to get things in perspective and acts as a reminder of good and bad times. However, for me, this day in history has always been proven difficult. Last year I was suffering from neck pain and dizziness, and the year before I was on crutches with gout. The year before that I was also on crutches but with a swollen knee and the preceding year we had an earthquake! As for this year? A cough, a runny nose and a particularly painful attack of gout that has left me hobbling. So no change there!
We don't see a lot of wildlife here in the city, beyond the odd caged bird. But the other day, two Kunming garage workers got a bit of a shock when a two metre long king cobra slithered across the road in front of them as they drove home.
Amazingly, they managed to catch the endangered animal and called the Yunnan Provincial Wildlife Center, who picked it up the next day. Rather them than me!
Past blog entries