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A Letter From China
Toisan Times
You may be aware we moved to a new city in summer 2010 and a new 5-bed apartment. This summer was unusually wet with the typhoon season we associate with September arriving more than a month early. We were fine as most of the storms passed us by, although neighbouring areas of Guangdong suffered badly. By mid August the rains had passed and we were exposed to the full power of the sun. My was it hot! All I wore for weeks was a baggy pair of trunks. Things got so hot that we took to keeping the lights off as much as possible, as the heat from the bulbs added to the room heat making the place even hotter. The temperature hovered around the 100 mark, or 40 degrees Centigrade if that is your persuasion. We virtually stopped going out during the day to avoid the direct sunshine, and even though night-time temperatures were still as high, at least we were more comfortable once the Day-Glow Pirate had set his sails.

The late summer monsoon did not happen this year, so temperatures stayed high into late September. October was a very pleasant month with the glass nudging 30 degrees most days, but nights were at least a little cooler. During the last days of the month we had an unwelcome cold snap with temperatures plummeting to the mid teens. This passed the day we left for holiday in Thailand, but we had already taken extra clothing with us for that day and the return leg. Arriving back one week later the weather was fine and back in the 20’s again. It stayed that way all through November, and it wasn’t until last week the cold returned with avengeance.

Whilst the mercury only dropped to 10 degrees at the lowest, the icy fingers of ill-wind crept throughout our days and nights meaning we were constantly cold. My friend Dave has been in Canton when it turns cold and he will concur that it is colder than anything he had ever experienced before. Rich was with him also on that trip. Now while 10 degrees sounds quite reasonable, the problem is that Canton does not do heating, nor draft exclusion. This place is designed for balmy summer days, so when it turns nasty-cold everybody just keeps adding layers, does extra physical work, or goes to bed. I went from tee-shirt and shorts to: 2 pairs of socks inside my hiking boots, tracksuit bottoms inside my jeans, tee-shirt, light sweater, heavy sweater, fleece jacket, body warmer, and extra large and padded anorak on top of the lot – all within the space of 24 hours!

This spell was so cold that I even looked out my salopets and bought a hat – something I never wear. Siu Ying added an extra and thick quilt to our bed and we survived. Of course, my situation was worse because my office is in the coolest room of the house that never sees any direct sunshine, and I spend all day sitting at the computer tapping away. Therefore I am not really burning many calories to add body heat naturally through exertion.

However, one plus point is that my wife now understands why soaking in a hot bath is so wonderful – it warms your entire body through, especially when topped up with more hot water. During this time I also came down with a minor cold, which didn’t bother me although was reason for Rhiannon to stay with her Grandmother less she contract it. Unfortunately for yours truly, a lingering cough developed into a bronchial infection, and I am not sure if this was the original cold/flu/fever, or something new. Siu Ying also had it and it lasted with her for over a week. Mine has just about disappeared after 2-weeks.

We went out to the bank one day to draw funds and I was walking very slowly and taking my time, in order to breathe properly. She reached the cashpoint ahead of me and went and sat down on a bench inside to get her breath back. This quite startled me as I did not realise she was suffering that badly up until that point. Had I been feeling a little better I would have been up for some crack (Irish for conversation in this context) with the eminently effable entrance assistant, who escorted me to the ATM I have used many times before, and stayed to ensure I was doing ok. Chinese banks can be like this, and service is always very good unless you need to queue for the counter. After said funds were raided, I too sat a minute to recover and the staff were all over us immediately, so much so that we had to leave to stop them pestering us with good intentions and cups of water.

We had been in this bank – the Bank of Communications when I was trying to work out how to transfer funds (Cash) to Citic Bank in Guangzhou re renewal of our Hong Kong Company licence. Yes! China Expat’s (HK) Ltd has been a registered Company now for over one year. ICBC was first and the queue an hour long at least, so we had passed on that one. This bank was across the road and second, but the staff couldn’t assist us due to no relations with the receiving bank. However they were extremely helpful and pointed us in the right direction = across the road once more to the Agricultural Bank.

I like the Agricultural Bank (ABC) for no apparent reason, and most ordinary Chinese people do also. It is the only Chinese bank to offer Western Union facilities, the only other being the stupid China Post. If you have ever tried sending a parcel from China then you will know this involves queuing several times and fighting a horde of others to be served each time. Nobody speaks English, and it’s worth a wasted hour. No way am I even going to think about trying Western Union there! On the downside, ABC does not do international credit cards, which is most inconvenient – especially seeing as they have a habit of having branches and cashpoints in the most convenient of places. The bank in question is actually the nearest to our apartment, being just down on the main road from our alley. Why did I not try them first? Well, I also needed to make a withdrawal, and they can’t do that for my international cards.

So we rock up at the ABC and I show Siu Ying how to get a ticket for the queue = 2 people, and this works for me. She never queries these things or even says ‘thankyou’, even though the machine is in Chinese only with several choices. I think I’m quite clever to be able to do this actually, but it passes her by. Just wait till she’s in UK hahaha!

We are seen within 5-minutes and I hand over my passy-port, ABC card from Foshan, and the dosh + payees details and email print-out in Chinese. My wife interpolates and it can be processed – except my card is no good here? I am used to a card being good all over the country, and whilst this would work for ATM purposes, it is no good for more serious bank stuff. I am handed my card back and told it doesn’t matter – they will do it anyway. I may need to watch this in future, as I have several Chinese bank accounts, and this information is telling me that they are controlled at City level, and I am now in a different city – so perhaps they are all no good here?

I think the real deal was that Siu Ying should open an account with them, which she did the very next day. It turns out this is her first ever proper bank account and she is quite chuffed! That fact that she is 32 years old and has never had need of a bank account shows you just how cash-based Chinese society really is. I won’t knock it actually, because if you don’t have the cash, then you can’t spend it. No horrible bills at the turn of the month. Works for me!

Meanwhile I consider that I maybe should open an account here also, and then there will be no problem next time. I haven’t got round to it yet, but compared to UK, opening a Chinese bank account is so easy I think it wise to collect a few before regulations tighten – as they eventually will. At the moment all I need is my passport, and a household bill in my name. Easy by the way, if you do not have any utility bills, then get a sim card from China mobile that is registered to your address. Costs the price of the free phone credit, and is viable support for opening a bank account. Regular readers may remember I went on active duty one day just shortly after we arrived here, and I sorted the internet connection myself = in my name. Later Siu Ying did the same for the telephone (Landline), so that is in her name. I think the wires got crossed somewhere, as my guy actually installed the telephone socket also, except the other fitter didn’t use it and ran a separate cable instead. Here is China!

Anyways, back at ABC and we wait while many forms are prepared in triplicate. In the interim the assistant bank manager comes over for a chat and to practice his English. He is pretty good actually; bearing in mind he probably hasn’t spoken the language since leaving University some years before. He is a nice chap and we get on well. However, we also do a little in Cantonese to even things up and he is well impressed with my language skills in return. It takes the girl about 10 minutes to set up this transfer, but she qualifies by stating it will be far quicker next time. My guess is that whilst the Bank has the interbank facility, the branch had never sent anything to CITIC bank before – hence setting up a new payment gateway – something like that. However, it worked a treat and funds had been received by the payee by the time I got home only 5 minutes later; so wonderful service!

Rhiannon (Nonnie) is now almost one year old, and probably will be so by the time I finish writing this epic and complete editing. She was born just after midnight on Christmas Eve 2009, and I always remember my dear friend Paul Yuan coming out to meet us at the ferry ramp in Gaogong. He drove us to a landside hospital some 10 miles distant, and also cooked all meals for Siu Ying whilst she was in hospital afterwards, and I know I owe him a deep debt of gratitude.

Nonnie is growing up inside the greater Chinese family, and has two homes – one with us and another with her Grandparents. In English terms I had thought this would work out something like she spends the week with us and week-ends at the outlaws (British humour for in-laws). China doesn’t work like this as I am learning. Rhiannon went to stay with her ‘Ganma’ a few days before we left for Thailand = end of October-ish. We got back and a day later went to pick her up. Siu Ying has this thing that I must stay overnight, but whilst I love them dearly, it really isn’t my thing, and with no computer there I really don’t have anything to do except eat, sleep, or watch crap on TV. Given I have a company to run and a lot going on most of the time, this does not suit me well. So I have drawn a line that unless it is a special event like Qingming (Tomb sweeping day), then I will only stay for the hours of daylight. This time the break turned out to be about 10 days, which was ok and Nonnie was pleased to see us. We returned with her and she really came on a lot over the next few weeks. She was able to speak baby talk, which mainly consisted of ‘words’ such as ‘ei’, and pointing at the object of her attention. This was great because when she was hungry all she did was shout ‘ei’ and point at the milk can. She was almost walking as well, but not quite. Her first tooth was also showing, but not coming through yet. Big changes in her small world for sure.

She stayed with us for about 3-weeks that time and came-on a lot. She began to take active notice of TV when something like the sheep and wolf were on, she knew the music already, and was progressing well. We took her out and every time we passed the nearby store she would holler and point at the range of kiddy-machines outside. She knew the sheep ones, but her favourite was the aeroplane, being more her small size. We passed by with a friend one day and she made such a fuss about it we had to stop for a ride. She gets two rides for 1RMB, which suits us fine.

During this period my wife conned me into going for a KFC, something I do enjoy occasionally – well, it’s so easy and ‘normal’ somehow. This turned out to be a shopping expedition, which she had preconceived. I was simply there to supply the readies, whilst she dragged me round stores doing ‘girls shopping’ – something I detest immensely! She eventually bought a dress and all was fine when we finally hit KFC. Nonnie really likes KFC, and she’s into the chips (Sorry, fries), not yet sure about the tonto sauce (Good girl), small bits of chicken only, and loves the Pepsi!

Later we wandered around outside for a bit and came to the other thoroughfare where there is a mini carousel. She didn’t really recognise this even though she has had a go before on occasions, so this time I took her for a ride on the pretty placid ponies and whatever. She loved it! She was now old enough to understand and we played the game of spotting ‘Mama’ every time the circle was turned. This cost all of 5 RMB for about ten minutes, and the guy in charge loved me when we came to pay afterwards and he found to his astonishment I spoke ‘fluent’ Cantonese! Well, I know it wasn’t quite that good, but the exchange was cool and had absolutely no problems. I must be improving! It’s not that I know very many new words, but that I keep readjusting how a specifically say each one, hence the progress I reckon. He was also a native of: ‘Foshan Talking’, which was easy for us both lol. Regardless, Nonnie was made-up and loved the trip - hence Mama was happy, which meant I was happy also. Good deal!

I admit to flagging a little by the time we reached the ‘Coffee House’, something Siu Ying had espied on a previous recognisance mission no doubt. I gave it a go and it was great – and a fraction of the prices charged in Foshan. I tried the Columbian with Alta Rica beans, and it was perfect for all of Y6 RMB. The Blue Mountain Brand was a massive Y10, but in Foshan this can set you back 40 or even 70 RMB in some places, so this place is really good and worth a visit next time. Marked for future conviviality when I am out and in the mood. But then again, it’s not just about the coffee either (Which was excellent by the way). It’s also about the atmosphere, and banter with the staff and owners, etc, all of which this small place had in buckets.

This leads me on to Chinese Tea, which I know as ‘yeurm cha’. These are basically places that have a full restaurant, but specialise in Dim Sum = snacks. Throughout my 8 years now living in China, the very best I have eaten came from the small restaurant opposite the head of the ferry ramp in the very small town of Gaogong. They just had everything spot-on for my palate. Unfortunately they were forced to close when residents objected – something common in China, and probably due to a rival restaurateur buying (But not living in) one of the adjacent properties. It has killed the entire area, and a great loss. But moving on – I had not found anything edible, never mind equal in Toisan.

Then one day around 10.30 am Siu Ying asked if I fancied going out for Chinese Tea? I was up for it, so we went to somewhere she had just found with a friend a few days earlier. It turned out to be a genuine 4**** star hotel, and very close by. The yeurm cha was dedicated to the third floor and was excellent! Staff understood my Cantonese and also spoke some English. I have Jessieca’s card in case I want to book a table in future – which I will do. The ‘Siu Mai’ (pork and prawns in yellow towers) were totally delicious, probably the very best I have ever tasted! The rest of our meal was also superb and the service excellent also. I know where I will be partaking of Chinese Tea in future! However, Jessieca also informed us that they offered a proper western breakfast, which I am yet to try. I don’t believe it actually, but this is served on the second floor, so research states I must try it sometime soon – the things I have to endure for my Company! I’ll let you know how it goes later in this column.

Meanwhile, Nonnie was not with us for this meal, having left a few days previously for a stay with ‘Ganma’. Too be frank, Siu Ying was wilting under the pressure, and then the flu-bug hit her and her strength was gone. I tried to fill the gaps, but as soon as her Mother heard about our predicament, she arrived and Rhiannon was gone the next morning.

I presumed this would be for a few days to let her daughter recover, but there has been a small family feud going on ever since she was born, of which I am not party too. My wife and I think very much alike on most matters, and we may be slightly crazy? During the first week of her absence I was missing Nonnie a lot, but it was Ok. As the second week drew to a close I was starting to have problems, but this coincided with our colds mentioned above. These hung around and we did worry about Nonnie coming into contact with such a devastating bug, so another week passed us by. Come the forth week and time was slipping too far I know. I protested to my wife that our daughter needed to be with us, but apparently this was her Fathers choice … I eventually worked out. So, do I go down to the farm all cannons blazing and rescue my daughter from her Grandparents? Get real. Of course not, but I drew a line in the sand and knew she needed to be returned very soon.

My protestations must have had effect, because in typical Chinese style, ‘Ganma’, Baba’s Sister, Dai Lo and wife + child all rock up one afternoon at our gaff. Rhiannon is with them and packed for staying with us again. My wife is out.

I call Siu Ying and tell her that no matter what she is doing, she needs to be here – NOW!

It works as a few minutes later she rocks-up and then there is an exchange of words between Mother and Daughter. It is in Toisanwah and extremely quick speaking, so I don’t really understand much of what is said – but that stated, but I get the gist of it. I take back my daughter into my arms, and from being Number 2 in her life a few weeks ago (Siu Ying is always Number 1), I am now relegated to ‘I think I know you’ status! WTF! It had been too long, as I surmised. The reasons for her impromptu return soon become evident, as she is teething and appears to permanently have a strop on. She is hard to deal with for the first 20 hours or so, but then mellows. It takes a couple of days and a bit of hard work actually, but eventually we get our daughter back the way we like her = relaxed, chilled and accommodating.

Siu Ying’s own Mother is an excellent Mother, and has done this countless times before. This means that what she does is streamlined, and a bath for instance is all about washing our baby and completed in about 3 minutes. Nonnie loves bath-time, and we usually let her play and are with her for 30-minutes or more … and that is it in essence. My own focus remains to let her develop into whatever she wants to become in this short life, and rushing her enjoyment of ‘bath-time’ is not on my agendæ.

That stated, Rhiannon already knows what ‘bath’ is in Cantonese, Mandarin, Toisanwah, and English! So how does that work then? That’s four languages which are all quite different to the human ear. This goes with my concept for her that she will actually be fluent in most of them. Gezzz … I even throw in a bit of International Spanish or French on occasions, which she laughs at: Asi es la vida; Baby!

Meanwhile I still write loads of new stuff for the website every day. Not all of this may be apparent to you, but our visits are now averaging 1, 265 new people every day for the last 2 months, increasing steadily … meaning I am doing something right. And I mean completely new visitors, not hits or anything else.

I am working with a lovely lady called Vilma who is trying to find her family roots in Gaogong, and perhaps place a plaque on the home of her Grandfather – now the Main Police station I once had to attend for issuance of a residential permit. She now lives in Costa Rica, but the family emigrated to California two generations ago = Her Grandfathers. I have this in hand and will probably sort it on Boxing Day. She speaks Spanish with English as a second language, whilst I speak English with Cantonese as a second language – and it works for us! Her Grandmothers home is also nearby, which she intends to rent out as a holiday home. Therefore part of my forthcoming mission is to visit the keyholder with Paul and take some pictures and a video of the place for her. Whilst she has staff available to look after guests, we can offer ‘Meet and Greet’ plus transfers. Of course, there is a nearby Sea Cat ferry link direct to Hong Kong, so this out of the way town is actually very accessible for international travellers. We’ll se what becomes of it all in due course.

My Chinese ‘Brother’ Eason is joining us to celebrate Christmas Day, Chinese style: and then I will return with him to meet Paul Yuan in Long Jiang and Foshan to sort out one years’ Kung Fu study in Wing Chun style (Ip Man and Bruce Lee) for a great guy from Norway who needs our help on the ground here. Again I intend to take pictures and video with my stupid mobile phone and add them to this website. Many people visit the site looking for Kung Fu information, so I am hoping that between the three schools we will visit there can be some sort of arrangement made. Ideally I am looking to confirm the availability of full-time study courses, as this is what I am being asked for. Chinese tend to do a one or two hour evening class a couple of times per week, which is not what my patrons are looking for at all. Presuming we can put something together, then we have the facilities to assist with accommodation and Chinese language lessons with a specific lean towards Kung Fu terms. This can be in Cantonese or Mandarin, with the former taking priority of course, as this is a Cantonese discipline.

Meanwhile I also started a column or ‘blog’ with the Daily Telegraph Expat’s section, just for shits and giggles. “Wot I rote” (Thank you Earnie Wise for adding that delectable clause to the English dictionary), was a precursor to many shorts that will be forthcoming, and not listed on this website, probably? You can find “Wot Jonno rote” here

Work-wise I have devoted much time to the website, having added drop-down layout to the missives page to include a brief taster, and rewritten our films and popular music sections recently. I have also managed to catch-up with virtually all the outstanding recipes – a work that will never be finished I am sure! I have about 100 pages up now, with some containing a dozen recipes – like “What do you do with whatever this is – don’t even know if it is a vegetable or a fruit”? Having revised the menu system for it some while ago, I am now finding that it really isn’t working as I would wish, so am waiting for inspiration to strike as regards improving it.

Some products or dishes are named in Cantonese as there is not a common western alternative, such as Chinese grapefruit (Citrus Grande). Some do have western names, but are known by their Hong Kong name internationally – shar sui (Char Siu) would be an example, which comes under Siu Mai in mainland Cantonese cookery. Then, I have to wait for enough information to be online before beginning a new category in the first place; I mean its pointless having a section dedicated to fish and then only having one entry. However, I have the feeling the whole thing is falling over and is not accessible in the right way – so I will probably address this in the very near future.

One of the problems I am wrestling with is that I feel it essential to include advice for first-time travellers to China who want to know what to eat. Say they love bananas, then they need to know if China actually has bananas – yes three types with completely different names, of which ‘heurng d’Zhu’ is the one you want. The same goes for sugar, milk, tea and coffee. The answer is usually affirmative, but sometimes what you get is very different from your expectations. Chinese bread and sausages in particular are a sugar nightmare for those seeking a savoury taste. Take a fruit salad in most western style restaurants here – it looks about right if you pardon the obligatory inclusion of tomatoes. However, the cream (Virtually unobtainable hereabouts) is actually sweet mayonnaise. You may begin to see my problem. Foreigners need to know this information before ordering their UK favourites in China, only to discover them disappointingly inedible.

I am going to have to resort to a full menu system that separates out: meat, fish, Chinese vegetables, western vegetables, and so on. This needs to be supported by an ‘ABC’ index in both English and Chinese names, cross-referenced. Page content is about right now to take this on, and this can be supported by many new recipes I haven’t published yet because they may not appeal to most foreigners. Well, would you die for a recipe for squid with duck’s intestines in chilli sauce? I have it ready to write, along with the ‘some sort of shells’ thing version. Conversely, many oversees Chinese read these recipes and want to know how their mother or grandmother cooked a particular dish back home in China – so these recipes are going in at some point. Neal and other vegetarians amongst our regular readers may be very interested in our new Dim Sum page, which contains a lot of vegetarian treats.

Apologies if you found that a bit boring, but I know some of you are interested in what’s coming next.

I spend most of my days working at the computer, and it keeps falling over! I was actually working on a different project (My book), when the thing went into a funny and Word presented me with a new panel in the right margin I have never witnessed before. Obviously no help was forthcoming and I couldn’t work out how to get rid of it. A couple of days later I got quite serious about removing it and eventually fathomed that it was an error log. Strange? I deleted the error log from my temporary folder, and lo and behold, the stupid panel vanished.

However the pc still wasn’t right. I use Dreamweaver virtually every day to make webpages, and it kept crashing. I un-installed it, reinstalled it and it made no difference. This would be about ten times each day, and frequently I would have to set it up again = a nightmare! Sometimes it just froze and deleted all the code I had been working on. There was absolutely no logic to it at all, so I took to creating second copies and saving every minute. I got to the point where my peripheral vision noted the slighted odd thing, like a letter not being typed, and I would know immediately it had crashed. Catching it that early saved my work, bit it was so tiresome to deal with.

I had tried the other version of Dreamweaver (CS4) but for some reason unbeknownst to me it would only fire-up in Chinese … like all the menus and everything were in Chinese characters, and were subsequently in a different order! Most helpful; not. I intended to press on and finish the update to the films pages before tackling the problem, as this work was very involved and I could not risk losing the computer before it was completed.

A week later all was sorted and I finished a couple of other outstanding issues and laid all to rest. I contemplated having to replace the computer, but that is expense and what with? I’d love one of the Lenovo computers with a stack of swappable hard drives that has Terabytes of memory on each. But these things are a lot of money, and then what operating system to choose? After experiencing Vista for a short while I seriously consider Microsoft lost the plot. I hear Windows 7 is good, but then there’s Apple and Linux. With these thoughts running through my mind I happened to click on the other .exe for Dreamweaver CS4, and found it opened in English language. This took me by surprise somewhat. How does that work then? No mentioned in the readme or installation files is the fact that there is a .exe which when clicked appears to do absolutely nothing. However, it does change the language Dreamweaver starts in when Dreamweaver.exe is clicked. Thank you for telling me something so enormously important, not!

I was by then in the mood to sort out why it kept crashing in the first place, and had got a weird pagefile system error the day before. Pagefile system is how Microsoft ‘Black Screen of Death’ is deployed. Mine is set at around 1.5 Gigabytes. Therefore it came as a surprise to note that my 3 Gb of free memory on ‘C’ drive was now down to only 920 Mb. That’s less than the Pagefile system … and my Dreamweaver error was so much like it was running out of memory I decided to look closer. Maybe it was a hunch, but computers are a bit like women, so once you work out what the problem could really be, everything starts to fall into place. I moved a load of photographs to ‘D’ drive and had a spring-clean of C. I got it back up to 2.6 Gb and then defragged the drives for good measure. Since that day the computer has worked perfectly, and Dreamweaver has never fallen over once.

My other big plan has been to write a book, as it came to me one day that I would sometimes seriously love to live on a desert island. Certain Chinese friends in particular had taken to thinking I was always available. The usual emphasis was for me to travel to Foshan or Gaogong for evening meal at 6.30 pm. This would mean that the last bus home would be long departed, so I would need to hotel overnight. No problem as such, but the new morning brings first ‘Chinese Tea’, followed by a factory visit to somebody who wants a foreigner to front his new sales ideas. I really can’t be done with it. However, my biggest problem is that these people didn’t simply ring once and wait for my reply. No; they would ring continuously for days, using different telephone numbers and calling 30 or 50 times. I consider that to be highly invasive. This has been compounded on a couple of occasions when people have been sent to my home to check ‘I am all right’! What! Having been at the mercy of a telephone for 30+ years (On-call, 24/7/365) I am totally selfish now and choose if I want to answer the telephone, and when. Therefore I simply turned the mobile off a few months ago, and have never found the inclination to switch it back on again. This in turn led me to some alternative thinking, you see…

I could never get my head around Castaway starring Tom Hanks, as it just seemed incredibly stupid. I am damned sure I would do a lot better than he did, and the bliss of not having stupid mobile telephones ringing would be a bonus. So I took myself aside and said to myself, “Jonno, if you are so sure about this, why don’t you write it?” And so I did. I got al the way up to chapter four when the ending started to take on a new dimension, so much so that I knew I was writing at least two books and probably a lot more.

Work and holidays then came and went, and I knew I was missing something – regards making a film or screenplay out of it. I began to consider that whilst a lot I had written was actually extremely good; that I would be better served to use this as the introduction to book two – where I make a very unusual discovery! So today I remain unsure whether to write the first book, or just scrap it and use what I can for book two.

I am leaning towards the latter actually, but my mind has not quite decided yet, so I wait for the gusher to come back and will watch with great interest what my fingers type next. You may find this an odd statement, as I did when I first experienced it. When I am doing good, it seems I am simply a conduit for what appears on the page; and whilst of course I have plots and a lot of input, when the muse is with me I simply write without conscious thought. I have stalled primarily because of workload which is now virtually cleared, and because I need to do a lot of serious research in order for my main theme to be totally believable. On the other hand I really wanted to write the first book and idea – it’s sort of in my mind and not replaced with the new idea yet. I haven’t told you what it is yet have I? Nor likely to until the first draft is ready! The reason for my unusual secrecy is that I am pretty sure the whole scenario is unique – and has never been done before.

This has also made me reconsider my own situation, and subsequently I have taken to calling myself a writer. In part this is because I am also writing another book which concerns something very different. I have no intention of publishing the second book – it’s simply not that good (But great experience for using speech and tenses correctly – now that was a very long time ago!) But have fallen in love with one of the characters and need to check she is ok as the work progresses. There is a place where the two books can combine to form a far greater whole, and I’m just about ready to put fingertips to keyboard. For the ‘gusher’ to become reality I need a new point of origin, and that appears to just about be in place in my subconscious, so you can guess what I will be doing early next year. Meanwhile the whale stranded in SanFran recently has given me a more definable introduction, so we appear to be ready to roll.

In a few hours it will be Rhiannon’s Birthday - and the next new tomorrow will be Christmas Day. It seems time waits for no man or woman, and it is as if just yesterday she was born. I am now ready to wake the family and sing Happy Birthday to her in: English, Cantonese, and Mandarin.

I know western readers of this column will be busy with their own Christmas celebrations, and I wish you great happiness and great family and friends to share precious moments with. Christmas is a time for children, family, traditions, and religion(s). It is not a cybersale and I do not miss the heady rush of overspending that normally accompanies what modern Christmas is for most people in UK. I do wish that I was there with you, so perhaps this small offering can come to you by way of substitute.

Fare Thee Well!

This work including text and associated photographs is Copyright of Jonno Morris (Unless stated otherwise), and may be reproduced for personal and private use under Collective Commons 3 Licence. An email would be appreciated in such circumstances, as would a reference.

You are not allowed to use this information to make money from my work - regardless of how fancy or well paid your lawyers may be.

Some artistic licence has been used arbitrarily in some of these Letters, and whilst most facts are in essence correct, some personal and literary interpretation may have been employed to greater or lesser degrees.
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