Are You Having a Laugh? #Share It On!

Are you laughing at me?

Are you laughing at me?

In Honor of Stupid People . . . .

In case you needed further proof that the human race is doomed through stupidity,
here are some actual label instructions on consumer goods…….

On Tesco’s Tiramisu dessert (printed on bottom) – – “Do not turn upside down.”
(well…duh, a bit late, huh!)

On Sainsbury’s peanuts – – “Warning: contains nuts.”
(talk about a news flash)

I'll check it out next time when I pop into my local supermarket

I’ll check it out next time when I pop into my local supermarket

On Boot’s Children Cough Medicine – – “Do not drive a car or operate machinery
after taking this medication.” (We could do a lot to reduce the rate of construction accidents if we could just get those 5 year-olds with head-colds off those bulldozers.)

On Marks & Spencer Bread Pudding – – “Product will be hot after heating.”
(…and you thought????…)

They are delicious, BTW

They are delicious, BTW

On a Sears hairdryer – – “Do not use while sleeping.”
(That’s the only time I have to work on my hair.)

fritos-flamin-hot-corn-chipsOn a bag of Fritos – – “You could be a winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside.” (the shoplifter special?)

On a bar of Dial soap – – “Directions: Use like regular soap.”
(and that would be???….)

On some Swanson frozen dinners – – “Serving suggestion: Defrost.” (but, it’s just a suggestion.)

On packaging for a Rowenta iron – – “Do not iron clothes on body.”
(but wouldn’t this save me time?)

Superman_0143On Nytol Sleep Aid – – “Warning: May cause drowsiness.” (..I’m taking this because???….)

On most brands of Christmas lights – – “For indoor or outdoor use only.” (as opposed to what?)

ATT00011

 

On a Japanese food processor – – “Not to be used for the other use.” ( now, somebody out there , help me on this. I’m a bit curious.)

On an American Airlines packet of nuts – – “Instructions: Open packet, eat nuts.” (Step 3: say what?)

On a child’s Superman costume – – “Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly.” (I don’t blame the company. I blame the parents for this one.)

On a Swedish chainsaw – – “Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands or genitals.” (Oh my God..was there a lot of this happening somewhere?)

Have you laughed?

Have you laughed?

Thanks to my friend Phyllis Eisenstadt who kindly passed this on to me, and it made my day!  Now that you’ve smiled at least once, it’s your turn to spread the stupidity to someone you want to bring a smile to (maybe even chuckle)…

Posted in Humour, Social Media & Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

From Freelance to 9 to 5

Going to a new job on my 1st day

Going to a new job on my 1st day

It’s Monday again and time to commute to work, by train.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I returned to full time work, following a long stint of freelance work, as a professional interpreter, translator, cultural consultant and author of three full-length novels.

Those of you who have read Land of Hope (my 3rd book of Journey to the West trilogy) would know how Pearl Zhang started her journey on a new career path and how all-consuming it had been, for a number of years. Many parts of the story, the life of a Police and Court interpreter, are based on real life experiences, hence convincingly and heartbreakingly true. By the end of that book, Pearl had to leave, not just her profession, but the country.

Reading Land of Hope in a Book Club

Reading Land of Hope in a Book Club

In real life, her alter ego, whom some strongly suspect was actually me, did not have to leave the country. However, I did have to make a hard choice. Ever since the Ministry of Justice Framework started to outsource professional interpreting services to one single company three years ago, this once highly satisfying career, for me and for many others, had become unsustainable. Despite strong opposition from interpreters, solicitors and many professionals, the deed was done. Many highly qualified professional linguists had no choice but to continue their fight, saying their goodbyes and seeking a change of employment.

Professional Interpreters Protests in London 2012

Professional Interpreters Protests in London 2012

It took me a while, but change I had to. Just like when I became a free-lance interpreter when I did not have too many alternatives, I returned to a full-time job, following a period of re-assessment and reflection.

My career stalled when I left university administration, which would have gone on to greater heights, of which I have no doubt. Becoming a freelancer was almost like a detour, taking me away from my main path, travelling to places where many would not dare to tread. Do I have regrets?

The answer is no.

Trials of Life of a Professional Interpreter

Trials of Life as a Professional Interpreter

Without my stint as a professional Interpreter, I would not have been able to create such a precious character as Pearl and allow her Journey to the West such a testing yet satisfying testimony of an extraordinary life. To this end, I would never regret those sleepless nights where I drove to many different police stations all over the country and spent hours and hours in Police cells, crown courts, prisons and Immigration and asylum appeals.

Yet somehow, there was a little relief. When that work with the Justice system was over, I no longer have to sit in my car, in the middle of wintry nights, driving in immensely difficult road conditions, to places I have never been before. Sometimes I felt that it was my driving skills, rather than my interpreting abilities which were being tested, especially when a white van, nearly rammed me off the road, as I headed towards home at three o’clock in the morning, on a snowy, frosty winter night.

Yes, part of me felt relieved. So much so that I sold my car, living a more healthy lifestyle, with plenty of swimming and flower-spotting, more time chatting with my friends all over the world on Social Media, and of course, indulging in another of my passion: travelling.

Listening to my iPod en-route to work

Listening to my iPod en-route to work

The day before I was due to start my full time job in Birmingham city centre, I bought my train season ticket. Using public transport, to John (a cyclist and environmental enthusiast) and myself, has always been a more welcoming option.

Now that I no longer need to set off in my car at short notice, to places which are impossible to get to without a car or SatNav, taking the train has been an incredible alternative. Not only can I go on-line to log onto my Facebook, Twitter etc to leave my morning greetings to friends far and wide, I can read a book, or listen to my iPod.

Better still, I get to walk to the station, then from station to my office, taking in the morning fresh air which I suck in greedily. Best of all, I am able to see the city with a fresh pair of eyes, drinking in its morning glory, as the Bullring, the city streets buzzing with energy and vitality. I see people rushing by to go wherever it is they are heading to.

In the evening at the day’s work end, I see the moon, hanging above and shining down on us mortals through the ever-shifting clouds. My spirits are always lifted to be greeted by such awesome natural beauty.

Moonrise in Birmingham City Centre

Moonrise in Birmingham City Centre

I may spend my work life in an office routine from 9 to 5 (fortunately my interpreting and translations skills are often in use too :-), but I am ready for the new challenges ahead!

Birmingham City University City Campus

Birmingham City University City Campus

Bullring and Birmingham City Sights

Bullring and Birmingham City Sights

Posted in Economics & Society, Politics & History, Reading & Writing, Social Media & Photography, True Life Story, UK, USA & Europe | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The #Ghost of #Halloween, the Past, the Present and the Future

Are you under my spell?

Are you under my spell?

We always remember the first time, don’t we?

I do.

At around this time 33 years ago, to be precise, in the autumn of 1981, while I was a student at Chongqing University in southwest China, I first heard of Halloween from my American teacher Lynne – I am not so sure of her surname now, which partly says how long ago it has been, and partly because I knew she married a Chinese student of her’s shortly after.

Yes, I had limited knowledge of western culture, religion and associated customs, after a period of a ban on anything ‘western’ and imperialistic, branded as ‘spiritual pollution’.

Then there we were, quite suddenly, importing ‘foreign experts’ from the USA, Canada and the UK. Not so much culture shock, but we were young and eager to learn and embrace whatever was foreign and new and exciting. Our very first Halloween party was mostly certainly thrilling!

My very first fancy costume as a Chinese ghost

My very first fancy costume as a Chinese ghost

The one & only Halloween Party for my class

The one & only Halloween Party for my class

It’s the first time I had heard of a fancy dress party and having to find something suitable for the event. We were a bunch of hard-up students and there were no such supplies back then. I am sure that nowadays if you would like a costume, you can just go to a shop and pick whatever takes your fancy.

So something scary, right? I had an ingenious thought: I could be a ghost! The outcome, check out my home-made scary outfit, made from my bed sheet – if there was an award for best outfit, I perhaps had a shot at winning it, don’t you think?

In the past 26 years in the UK, I have been to a couple of fancy dress parties and I enjoy the whole process of dressing up and dancing the nights away. I was never young enough to go ‘trick or treating’, but I always make sure that I have various sweet treats for young children who come knocking at our door.

Fast forward to 2014. Last night we were invited by John’s Aunt Shirlie to her beautiful country house in Chesterfield, overlooking a lovely former playing fields. When we arrived, the path was lit eerily and I knew that I was entering weirdly dark, spooky territory.

Family fun at Halloween 2014

Family fun at Halloween 2014

Amazing decorations throughout the house

Amazing decorations throughout the house

The Witch and the Mad Hatter

The Witch and the Mad Hatter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The whole ground floor was decorated to enchant the party goers, each and every room had frightening presence. The walls had been decorated in the style of the Adams Family, the bathroom filled with spiders and other creepy crawlies,the kitchen resplendent with hacked off limbs and fingers – even a brain jelly waiting to tempt the palette.

Everyone had made an effort to disguise themselves in various horrific guises. I was a witch and John went as a pumpkin head/crazy redhead. Others represented the last 100 years of horror movies and Gothic novel characters. The music was suitably themed and it is amazing how many tunes do fit this once a year event.

I have read quite bit about the origin and legends of Halloween, and I know that it was influenced initially by Celtic harvest festivals. However, the kind of activities we see today are largely American, testimony to how American culture has spread across the oceans.

Who is more scary, the skeleton or the smiley redhead?

Who is more scary, the skeleton or the smiley redhead?

The Ghost bride Emmaline, John's cousin

The Ghost bride Emmaline, John’s cousin

On a final note, I am very grateful towards Aunt Shirlie for inviting me to be part of the family fun gathering. As you can see from the pictures, most of these scary people were John’s maternal family, aunts and cousins.

With our hostess Aunt Shirlie (Right),  Aunt Janet (Left)

With our hostess Aunt Shirlie (Right), Aunt Janet (Left)

Would there be a next time? You bet. Now that I have done ghost and witch, I am already thinking ahead as to what I could be in my future guises. Watch this space!

IMG_0309

Posted in Arts & Culture, China & East Asia, Entertainment, Social Media & Photography, True Life Story, UK, USA & Europe | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#China’s Great Wall No Longer Stops Invaders.

John at Great Wall, October 2014

John at Great Wall, October 2014

By John Kirk

A fat business man parked his Range Rover right across the pedestrian crossing as we approached. I pointed out the selfishness of this as we detoured around his two tons of expensive male jewellery, but he just smiled the smile of a man with no concern for others. We were in Beijing not Birmingham or Knightsbridge and the arrogant business man was Chinese not English. Welcome to China in 2014.

A mile away stood the statue of Mao Zedong pointing the way to the future, but was this the future that he expected for China?

A few days earlier, and on my way to Shanghai via Beijing, my plane had been unable to land because of the pollution there. Apparently it was so bad that people could not see their hands at the end of their outstretched arms. After circling the capital for 45 minutes we headed off to land in Taiyuan, which is normally even more polluted than Beijing. A combination of no wind, farmers burning stubble, coal burning power stations and car exhausts had produced the perfect “pea-souper” fog and the Capital was cut off from the air.

Tour of Beijing

Tour of Beijing

Beijing Traffic in the Mist, photo by Summer Lin, 2014

Beijing Traffic in smog, photo by Summer Lin, Oct 2014

In many ways the West has exported its atmospheric pollution along with much of its manufacturing capability. The demand for energy now has the Chinese leading the way in energy technology for the future, but the demand is now and the pollution is like it was in London, Manchester and Birmingham in the 1930s when they were the centre of the manufacturing world. There is no short-term fix, and the demand for cars is undiminished. Many Beijingers still ride bicycles to work, the shops and a few to school; but the majority of citizens have embraced the internal combustion engine, commuting and consumerism with an undiminished passion.

21st century China: Traditional street food & western suits

21st century China: Traditional street food & western suits

When we came back to Beijing a few days later the skies had cleared and a blue sky dazzled above but the air was still acrid with unseen pollution. My eyes stung and my nose ran. It was still deeply unpleasant, but Beijing residents were grateful to see at least a blue sky after three months of smog.

Range Rover is made in Birmingham at a factory now owned by Tata the Indian industrial. It is as British a car as you will find, but this week Tata announced a partnership to build its baby Range Rover Evoque in Changshu near Shanghai. Very soon 120,000 of these luxury vehicles will be pouring off the line every year. The Chinese love the marque and its European branding. It makes them stand out, but the problem is that a point will be reached when demand will drop because the luxury brand is no longer sufficiently exclusive. Meanwhile all of these extra cars are clogging up the streets and polluting the air.

Victoria Beckham with Range Rover Evoque

Victoria Beckham with Range Rover Evoque

A bridal gown designed with 999 breathing masks to raise environmental awareness, shown in Beijing

A bridal gown designed with 999 breathing masks to raise environmental awareness, shown in Beijing

At weekends some Beijingers like to escape to the mountains to sample the fresh air and visit beautifully constructed “ancient” villages. We visited one such village 60 miles away and took a cable car up to the Great Wall. It was wonderful to get out of the city and clean out the lungs and eyes. The Chinese middle and upper classes looked happy too, able to breathe fresh air and take in the amazing building capabilities of their ancestors.

The Wall was built to keep out invaders from the West, but now they come in by air, unless the smog stops them from landing that is.

Shanghai, with blue sky!

Shanghai, with blue sky!

Junying: You may be interested in seeing more pictures of Great Wall Here.

Posted in China & East Asia, Economics & Society, Travel Logs, UK, USA & Europe | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments