Down and Out in H.K

 

IMG_3822The thundering of trains is a great sound, each thunder clap sounding like another stamp on your passport: there you are; standing on H.K harbour…

Boat journeys make you feel seasick: excited for another time: a time of pirates and…uh…UK Governor Fat Patten…Hong Kong is a melting pot of a city: that’s the laziest way to describe it,  It’s got all the melting pot credit of big cities like New York and if you stay too long it could perhaps burn you out.

It’s gone from powdered wigs to being the inspiration behind the landscape of cartoons like Ghost in the Shell: its a Xiao Long Bao, with layers upon layers or a Xianggang Long Bao. An island of difficult transitions, that can’t find its true place in the gullet of the world.

I visited a rough Karaoke bar; where a sad buffet and an even sadder selection of clients sat in garish; red light disco style surroundings; ironic given that the amount of crime going on among the ‘singing’ was probably high…their songbook tells me that they had Tom Jones and David Bowie tracks on their obviously pirated karaoke machine.

Time is a jet plane in these kind of places: hours seemed to pass so quickly or sometimes it seems that they never get off the runway; there was a few knowing looks, it was either pay HKD and get laid or leave: What happened next was not exactly the easiest part of the trip.

Time for bed… …At 2am I was faced with a metal door…Wiggle it a few times… It’s shut shit…

I was greeted with a metal door, with nowhere to stay; I tried to hustle people in the street who thought I was crazy; I visited countless hotels…no luck for under a few thousand HKD…I walked until I could walk no more, I tried to find shelter in McDonalds: no luck; Central was surprisingly lacking the usual drunks…I should have buried myself in KTV and never left its neon confines until the sun came up…

So instead of an Airbnb, I laid down beside St. John’s Cathedral, my possessions in a rucksack; now acting as a pillow; on the lookout for  drunks; keen on the cheap thrill of stealing a passport or worse: I was shaken by a security guard and waiting for the sky to brighten up; eventually: I remember what felt like 10 seconds, but was likely 10 minutes of sunrise over my concrete, admittedly beery hell:

I thought of Oscar Wilde, shivering in a cell; babbling to himself; ‘What an ending!’ as recalled in De Profundis…though this was just a sickening fever of pretentiousness left over from the arts fair…It was really a glimpse, albeit superficially into the life of the poor of Hong Kong .

I’d been out for a full day; taking selfies with artworks at Art Central and taking pictures of great food which cost around $78 HKD per dish: we must not forget; that while we live fairly materialistic lives; plastering our pleasures all over our social media: there are people who live in much harsher conditions; it sometimes feels like we should be doing more to help. Raising awareness and being a little more proactive in how we help those people.

 

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I’ve read about the ‘insults to human dignity’ that many Hong Kong people go through in ‘coffin homes’ and now I’d spent the night lying on the dark side of the property boom: Where there’s no cheap hotel  or as for the locals; no cheap property to get a decent night’s sleep in a stressful, frenetic and hungry city.

 

It seems I’ll have to read this out loud next week…Here’s the flyer: 

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What to do on a Sunday ? (when you don’t have Yorkshire pudding)

 

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The idea started with an ice-cream as many good ideas do, this wasn’t a particularly good ice-cream; it was more like a ‘I have 70p on me and I’m up a mountain’ Ice-Cream. Think of it as the milk-based equivalent to a Soho peep show, a little unsatisfying compared to a hazelnut Magnum or Cornetto: I was on this mountain and I started to wonder:

What kind of person am I?

How do I want to be remembered?

Do I really want to be remembered as someone who merely spends a day off…on a mountain; eliminating the exercise with cheap, sugary goodness or do I want to look in the mirror and be able to say something like:

I’m the kind of man who wears white socks…

Wait hang on…

I mean I’m the kind of man who wears white socks while Bungee Jumping…

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Sadly looking back; I resemble a baby in one of those bouncy seats; all bandy legs; although I screamed my head off like Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet at the time…

Baiyun Mountain which resembles more of a hill has Bungee Jumping…because this is China and having a bench to sit on would be too mild: through the clearing: I could hear the latest dance music and assumed I may stumble upon a party and maybe a sympathy shot of Tequila for coming up a mountain with about a quid to my name…Instead…I discovered a bungee jumping range; a gaggle of selfie hunters and my ragged self…What choice did I have?

The instructors looked scary…

The drop looked scary…

So…I had an Ice-Cream…

 It took me longer to decide to do it than it did to do it; I’ve slept on the streets of Hong Kong, I’ve shot guns in Vietnam and I’ve done things that I can’t even mention in print for fear of reprisal; But show me a sheer drop and I get seasick; If anyone is going to end up with the cord snapping; dying in some unintentionally hilarious bungee mishap; it’s probably me.

 But up the platform I eventually went, had my blood pressure taking; while the instructor smoked a fag with his broken tombstone teeth: fortunately up on the platform; beyond the other dodgy instructor you get a real view of the city and a brief few minutes to exchange some knowing glances with fellow divers: the drop down lasts a second; but, as they say glory is forever; while Ice-Cream just melts…

 This week: 

I…visited… Baiyun Mountain itself was also cool; it resembles more of a hill and Nengren Temple feels like a glimpse of old China: I was unfortunately out of charge for a lot of this adventure and in fact ended up on a bus that seemed to head out of Guangzhou and into some pretty scary; unfamiliar places; shout out to the paper businessmen who rescued me by getting me to a metro station.

 Ate out…a little bored of a bowl of decidedly ill-advised wonton; the Sunday I went for eggs benedict at Dimcube…Please note; do NOT go for eggs benedict at Dimcube; the eggs were cold; but still…it beat wonton…mildly…though we did have some good sushi over a rip roaring night trying some craft beer.

 Became slightly obsessed with… the return of ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ and ‘Wild Wild Country’ which is the story of the Rajneeshpuram cult: It’s always fascinating how people are drawn into a community; whether it be an acting troupe or an esoteric cult that wear all red.

Also...Street Photography is in and polaroids are currently out! just kidding; I think this is the most evocative photo I’ve produced lately; but it’s all just done digitally with a phone;

 

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What are we living for?                   What are we waiting for? (2018)

Hong Kong: Down and Out in the Big Wonton…

From afar, it looks like a queen. But from closer you see that the old empress’s make-up is smudged and flaking, and that the ornaments fluttering in the wind are not lace, but someone’s laundry drying at the windows. But she’s still is a real beauty.”-  Dejan Tiago-Stanković on Lisbon…

The thundering of trains is a great sound, it represents hope opportunities: boat journeys make you feel seasick and excited for another time: a time of pirates and…uh…silver eye patches:  Hong Kong is a melting pot of a city: that’s the laziest way to describe it I suppose: it’s got all the melting pot credit and if you stay too long it would likely burn you out.  

 It’s gone from powdered wigs to being the inspiration behind the landscape of cartoons like Ghost in the Shell: its a Xiao Long Bao, with layers upon layers or a Xianggang Long Bao. An island of difficult transitions that can’t find its true place in the gullet of the world:  

 

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Ghost in the Shell; Ghost City

Who is it owned by? 

Are the people free?

What’s the big obsession with milk tea?

 I grew up idolising no-good stars like Lou Reed, Andy Warhol and the whole New York set: I’d say Hong Kong has the same type of Street cred, full of characters: morphed from grit to glamour to ‘glamoury grit’ in the space of a decade.  Think Siouxie and the Banshees: ‘Hong Kong Garden’ and you aren’t far off.  

At the moment it’s being reshaped by local and foreign artists in the moneyed Central, while the rest of it possibly dies on its arse outside: Nothing is more jarring than the first visit to deepest, darkest Kowloon where only small pockets of fashionable spaces exist, next to the iconic signs for delicacies such as the ethically questionable shark fin soup and Kodak film cameras; you can get anything in Kowloon.

I’ve heard stories that behind all the lucky fish; lurks an even more unsavory trade in rare turtles and animals which definitely don’t want to try the famous Hong Kong fish balls and would frankly rather go back to their jungles and forests.

 

During our trip, we visited Art Central, a sort of collection of international galleries:   Mostly it helped me to think about what I get out of an art piece and is art really just about contextualising/interpreting thoughts and emotions or simply visual? Lots of lofty ideas come forth here; but Art Central is definitely aimed at the moneyed set as well as the average loving pond scum like myself;

 

There was also a series of talks by artists such as a Vietnamese intellectual chap who spoke about turning the object of war (the helicopter) into an object of hope and how Vietnam is trying to move on from the trauma which has scarred their country; The Vietnamese in Western media are often portrayed as frankly poor and feckless; with movies historically centering around heroic G.I’s while the Vietnamese hide as a sinister force in the jungle.

 

So all in all, Art Central is worth it, just to see something different: We may have been in Hong Kong partly to pick up Percy Pigs and a variety of excellent Easter Peanut Butter M and M’s; but seeing the arts is usually a thrill; even if it’s just to take the piss out of something somebody has taken time and effort to make…

Later, after my friend left; drinks consumed and dinners eaten; I visited a rough Karaoke bar; where a sad buffet and an even sadder selection of clients sat in garish; red light disco style surroundings; ironic given that the amount of crime going on among the ‘singing’ was probably high. I was a few sheets in by this point, but their songbook tells me that they had Tom Jones and David Bowie tracks on their obviously pirated karaoke machine.  I left pretty late; what happened next was not exactly the easiest part of the trip;

Time for bed…Drinks and bodies drained…

 

At 2am  I was faced with a metal door…

 

Wiggle it a few times…

 

It’s shut…

 

Shit…

 

Shit is the only way to describe the events that followed; I had neglected to book into my Airbnb on time, therefore I was greeted with a metal door, with nowhere to stay; I tried all the old tricks; I asked people in the street who thought I was crazy; I visited countless hotels…no luck for under 150 quid…

So, I walked, I walked until I could walk no more, I tried to doss in McDonalds, even hustle some night clubbers;  then I collapsed in a heap in a public park; woken by a security guard and waiting for the sky to brighten up; eventually; I remember what felt like 10 seconds, but was likely 10 minutes of the sunrise over my concrete hell: I thought of Oscar Wilde, shivering in a shell; babbling to himself; ‘What an ending!’ as recalled in De Profundis…though maybe this was just a sickening fever of pretentiousness left over from the arts fair…

 Okay, I was free; but dossing with little energy; ruined by drink; it was really a glimpse into the life of the poor of Hong Kong: If anything it made me wish to start some kind of infustructure; but I can’t even spell the damn word; I think the homeless should always be given something to do; somewhere to go; Society literally as a whole forgets about these people; through art or even just giving them an odd job; we can make a difference; food and kip is a universal right…

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Is this my hippie phase? 

Don’t focus on the hole, focus on the bagel (or better yet, don’t just order a cheese bagel after a night on the streets)

 Anyway, finally after walking around, taking early morning polaroids; a disappointing cheese bagel; recovering in a café; nobody could tell I’d slept in a park; I was able to get enough energy to visit The Peak; which I don’t recommend for polaroid photos; but recommend for its stunning glimpse that the grass is greener on the other side; look out for the eagles! It made me want to day trip to Kongers to see more of the peaceful side.

 Each city has its flavor I suppose…Back on the train; armed with snacks; I was filled with the same feeling that I still have; the world is a big place; I need to meet more people and need to expand my horizons both literally and figuratively; I’ve been here 9 months…and there are so many places to visit…. I’m now seeing the need to go somewhere else rather than the big wonton of HK… somewhere equally as frenetic or maybe just somewhere where money is not the focus…lets see…

 

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Still now I discover little pockets of old and new life mixing in Canton (Guangzhou)

We drank at: Club 71: Artsy little cavern down a side street in Central; decent wine from a bottle and apparently named after the protest movement which swept Hong Kong a few years ago (where’s that gone again?)  I met an architect here; a real Tom Hanks type character drinking wine who declared me to be a work of art…a pretty good compliment from someone who must think in such a visual, as well as practical manner…

 We ate at: Classified; think $30 for a glass of pretty okay wine, then respectively $60 for a bit of hummus, bread and cheese; little luxuries that any expat can appreciate; in a quiet area of Central;’ it’s next to Man Mo Temple; which is also worth a gander; Staff can be a bit churlish; but fresh food and drinks so hey ho… I have fond memories there…

 I also visited Little Bao for Szechuan Chicken Bao and their fries; sadly getting a table next to a wall, but getting to chat with a Glaswegian film producer who’s name escapes me; he who is tired of Bao is tired of life; must try other places or just eat 7/11 snacks as the small space demands a bit of conviviality: But often; while Hong Kong has a great restaurant scene; exploring it on your own can sometimes be a burden onto itself; though Little Bao is always a winner! See below a photo by thatfoodcray; (http://www.thatfoodcray.com/hong-kong-cray-little-bao/

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We let out our arts side by…Okay, it wasn’t exactly anything other than placing a picture of myself in an envelope at a public place;  I tried to capture this in a photograph; some kind of character portrait: I want to leave gifts in the street for people: like your aunt Nora to find some photograph of the decayed and depraved “Mr.Trotman’ on the side of the road: I don’t know it gives me a curious thrill to make things and put them into public spaces. Even if it does seem like an extreme pretention; I like the idea of a collectors series; but I need more of a powerful subject than just myself; I need to make a new series; though I have some stuff in the pipeline: I just want to tell stories; that’s really it,

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Street Photography in Guangzhou, China.

What is it about photography and art in general that makes it so worth getting out of bed? For me, it’s all about contextualizing an experience or even transforming what could either be a meandering wandering, fleeting moment passing thoughtlessly in the 24, not always excellent hours of our days. Sometimes, the ability to wander is a blessing in itself; in a world dictated by schedules both seen and unseen.

Anyway, enough with the semi-literate ‘gallery wall’ meandering above; the fact is; there’s nothing more raw and visceral than street photograph, I started out by taking photos with a cumbersome, high tech little device down in Northampton, England of all armpits or arseholes of Britain: the clientele were a mix of dire warnings, people passing through and the funny failures that congregate in the great British Pub.

So why turn from a fairly decent camera to using an iphone? Maybe it was partly out of laziness from the beginning, but then also its ability to capture people at their ‘decisive moment’ as Cartier Bresson would say is probably one of the advantages of modern day; we are all in some way recording everything these days; for better or worse: we are obsessed with our surroundings and ironically totally blinded by them and need our phone than say; we need the ability to walk without bumping into someone.

China is one of the greatest countries in all the world for street photography, despite all the young people chained to their phones: there’s still a wealth to be gained from exploring the little side streets, poking your head into other people’s lives and emerging with even the most minute insight into daily Cantonese life.

What you may notice is that I’ve mainly focused on the older generation of Guangzhou…which begs the question: Who has more fun in China? Who is actually more refined? The hip new young people or the ones requiring a hip replacement?  Let the photographs I have taken below stand to record what might be the last breaths of street culture in Guangzhou, China.

The Tupperware Cage that was Andy Warhol’s factory.

I was there: Just some reflections on my time at Andy Warhol’s factory; where I was a bit of a ‘hanger-on’ for more than a few years; I feel like recently; his star and reputation has become cemented; but it doesn’t show the Andy I knew; the Andy that could do anything; not just as a gay icon; but as an all round can of awesome; I later became a little bit lost after his death; but through writing and poetry; I think I’ve found a way out…Enjoy!  

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All I had left of Andy, was a faded polaroid. Yes, I was one of the Femme Fatales that whooped along to the steely electrical clang of The Velvet Underground, I used to go back from the fifth floor at 231 East 47th Street in Midtown, Manhattan with silver tinfoil sticking to my brogues.  Andy used to say I had ‘silver feet’  and it was a nice description; this is how I became known as ‘Silver Feat’ as a recording artist a few years later.

Everybody knows Andy for the soup cans, but after a heavy night at the factory; I saw how much he resented sometimes (as well as relished) his reputation as a one-trick pony; Pope Ondine would still be holding court in the main room and if memory serves me; you had to avoid more than silver tinfoil and rather more sticky substances later on: Andy got sick of it all and one day he threw Ondine out;

Ondine came back of-course, we all came back; some came back more wiry; more edgy; some came back fat and slow;  Ondine always came back thinner and more wiry; near the end he looked so damn old; so damn ugly: Look at photos of Nico in the later years and see what the price of the factory was; it was a moment of extreme beauty; to be remembered; to be instantly forgotten; thrown away: the factory was a tupperware cage; that’s what Andy used to call it; then he’d sigh and probably mix up a Bloody Mary.

Two constant things used to haunt me as I walked through Chinatown; looking for a particular type of steamed dumpling; looking for something to eat that wasn’t pickled vegetable and gherkin sandwiches Andy’s mother used to serve up: He really was a family man; I used to pray with Mrs.Warhol during my religious phase, where I would wear neon crucifixes, dance all night to modern versions of gospel songs: gospel was really where it was at for the average flunky during the sixties and seventies.

The most vivid night came during one of Andy’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable events that i’d had the pleasure to attend; there was this heavy waft of marijuana and pretension in the air: there was a dancing girl who kept saying over and over to me; ‘it’s just magic, it’s all just magic.’ the funniest site was Andy himself: one minute tending to his mother upstairs’ the next with a truckload of whatever sticking to his face, holding hands with a great male or female; squirting water guns filled with LSD on partygoers: making sandwiches and handing them to the inebriated.

What a lot of people couldn’t stomach about Andy during that time; apart from his homosexuality: was his antics; crossdressing; sometimes even straight; Andy was known as Drella; to the bafflement of the ‘journos’ that used to come down from the posh offices to interview us.

It was a combination of Dracula and Drella; he even boasted once of sleeping with Edie Sedgewick; he used to hold phone conversations with the great lord and I never saw him without some kind of sexual appetite; it’s widely known that he used to take drugs; we all did! it was the sixties…But we were a movement and our movement has echoed through reality television; the nations current obsession with Ru Paul and well…the age where we share virtually everything; just as I’m sharing the descriptions of life at the Factory right here with you…

Nevertheless; I never made it as a dancer; I never made it as an actor; but I did publish a short book of poetry during that time; Poetry for Drunks; there was one poem; ‘E’ that was really about the Big ‘A’:  Andy Andy and guess what? Andy!

We basically all wanted the great wizard to wave his wand and make us into Dorothy: to give us a heart; a brain and douse all the wicked green witches you used to get on main street; the drug addicts and just the down and outs.

Flying Monkeys

Maybe what I later realised; is that actually we were just the flying monkeys; popping out to get milk for Andy: Sometimes he could make you feel like just another condiment on the shelf; just another flavour of fun to fuck with. You were a star, but his real stars were the ones that later lost their lives to the fun; they were past their shelf life so to speak; they had expired and were extinguished; like so many of the post prandial fag breaks after a rough bit of ‘how’s your father’ which could feature anything from a toaster to a banana.

My father,  skin scarred from Rosacea working down the docks could never understand why I hung round the places that I did; where everything was all about surface and surface alone; after Andy was shot; the scene became a bit more corporate,  Andy started to care more about what was going to happen to him when he was dead; it was no longer like hairspray; a quick flash; but more like a slow running bath.

Andy was accumulating things; ironically for someone so materialistic; before that it has been about the people and so; while I was always welcome to pay the man a visit or chat to him in Studio 54; he had evolved into the shrewd businessman that is loved and lauded by the elite today; who store his paintings in air conditioned vaults and use them to pay alimony.

How I began to miss the dirty Andy; the Andy who would swoop down upon the social animals and suck them dry;  Andy during the later phases was just like his failed robot experiment; he would go out; do work; have something fancy for dinner and then rush home to bed; I even heard; he’d started diluting; (a dirty word back then) his drinks down with mixers and cutting his drugs with cough syrup, rather than say; actual drugs. Andy had died and was undead; gasping for air like my fathers silvery freshwater trout.

I even went back to live with my parents for a while afterwards; before exploding back into the scene; which had dwindled to occasionally glimpsing Lou of the Velvets; (a dumpling in hand) wandering around the markets of Chinatown: he’d always speak a little Chinese to some shopkeeper; really freak them out in a time; when frankly it was unheard of for a New Yorker to even mix without sneering: my dad kept descaling the fish and I kept diving, trying to get my gills.

I later became a punk poet and I based a lot of my early material on the factory years; though nothing I wrote ever compared to the first time I showed Andy ‘E’ and he just sat there and said it was ‘great…like eating a sandwich filled with nirvana’… Yes, Drella was an odd bird and when he flew away; I began to miss him and hope he had just gone to a silver heaven; to the great soup can in the sky.’

 

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Just a cutout from my ‘Poetry for Drunks’ of E…about Andy…

 

 

 

Disaster-us

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Tracey Emin Drawing

Just a brief meditation on failed dating scenarios, however complicated it might be; writing about everyday situations is somehow harder than writing anything fantastical; I may try and put this somewhere: I think the most prominent extract from me here is: 

‘….this sense that the weight of the world is determined by your attitude, by your state of mind, rather than by anything remotely tangible.’  

Disaster-Us.

By Charlie Trotman

There’s disastrous weekends and then there is disaster-us weekends; I could tell from the look of her that we weren’t going to be able to have a couple beers, eat something random and go home and make love, laughing like drains to the hangover; but it was still nice to feel in her presence; that you she could actually see you.

So I began to miss that feeling and a few dating sites later and I began to wonder if I could get that feeling back; maybe just encapsulate it just one day and a morning a week; have someone to think about that wasn’t my own wretched self: meandering, wandering around; spinning on a wheel of repetition.

A couple of distant ‘heys’ followed by emoticons; and I’d found somebody that was going to at least be interesting; she was instantly responsive to my messages; had unedited photographs of herself with a dog; and she at least had a beer in one of the six available ‘pics’

I made myself a sandwich, I didn’t eat that much these days that wasn’t carbohydrated and easy; in-fact; I’d say that I needed to gain weight: I felt like I looked old and it was beginning to bother me; I could wax lyrical about the merits of ice-cream and yet; I’d gotten lazy, so very lazy, yet increasingly thin; how surreal it was to be so lazy and thin; but then again; I don’t think the booze helped in this regard; it is far easier to spent a week on beer and nuts than it is full meals with water.

I decided to take the plunge; I tackled the dishes and I messaged the girl: obviously not right away; lets be honest I wasn’t the most sensible or decent human being; I was just doing my own thing; sometimes; I felt I resembled some kind of unorganised wreck and other times; I felt that this was an insecure and again; a lazy observation of the world on my part.

We met in the bar, a little expat type hangout where the Bellinis tasted like shampoo; anywhere with an eighties soundtrack; as was always present at The Happy Monk was a winner from me: It was a perpetual studentdom that I’d fallen into as a result of my job, my lifestyle.

Tasha sits at the bar; she’s waiting and looking around nervously; I’m waiting outside; nervously; two separate states of nervousness will crash together; the nervousness that her eyes will narrow and she’ll be disappointed on my part and maybe the same feeling on her end of things; that we just won’t get on, we won’t be able to cut through the bullshit long enough to get to know each other.

“3-2-1………..1-2-3”

The place is filling up now, she’s nearly ready to order a drink, I can tell; there’s probably some charming, taller, more organised man, ready to pounce upon her; So I’ve got to act quick, I’ve got to split up the tension, begin to make a bit of effort; there’s a businessman, sipping a pint and talking on the phone, there’s a young couple with kids(?) eating Fish N’ Chips the same color as the setting sun.

How to introduce yourself:

a) ‘Hey Tasha, Nice to meet you!’

b) ‘Hey!’  (Try not to sound gay)

c) ‘Hey!  (pause for effect)…What’s cookin?’

I’ve spent about two hours trying to get my hair to look good, I’m washed, shaved even, but here I am, in the middle of a doorway; staring in, halfway punter and pedestrian; while men with large stomaches and larger appetites discuss like packs of howling dogs where to go; I decide to take a walk around the block and sort it out…

How to introduce yourself

(When you are late) ;  

a) ‘Hey sorry…traffic was terrible!’ (I don’t drive and have no money for a taxi)

b) ‘Hey you are early!’

c) ‘I’m worth waiting for!’

The buildings begin to rise in prominence with the darkening sky and again, funny as it is; I’m kind of relieved when I get into the bar and she’s vanished like steam coming out of the coffee grind; it’s this horrible thing; this sense that the weight of the world is determined by your attitude, by your state of mind, rather than by anything remotely tangible; but yet; making the easy choice, to be hidden; that’s where anxiety can lead you, I take up the beer, a thought occurs to me; it’s better to pick option a, b or c than pick z.

 

My Celta Experience: Charlie Trotman

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Teaching English as a Foreign Language is all about communication; how you express yourself; both through your words and actions, has a ripple effect on any students understanding of a particular word or target sentence; it all begins with doing something physical; You need to get up off your butt (or pigu as my Chinese students say) and actually show that you have the confidence to stand out from the crowd.

CELTA is a great gateway to language teaching abroad; because it shows that you are unafraid to take the first step into the world of English Language Teaching; you will most certainly be required to stand up, elucidating concepts that were maybe strange and unfamiliar even to yourself (trust me, I once had to grapple with explaining Augmented reality to a Japanese man)

What makes CELTA at Swansea University such a rewarding experience; is that you’ll be given the opportunity to work closely with students of a wide range of backgrounds; both in your team of teachers and your students; trust me; there’s no greater thrill than the repeated words of encouragement from grateful students at the end of a class and learning about their lives is just as valuable as many of the grammar points you’ll learn along the way…

Personally, I came from a three-month charity project in Ikorodu, Nigeria where I worked closely with students, which required me to consider how I communicated with people of different cultures and certainly helped me in understanding that patience is a virtue when teaching English as a foreign language, most importantly; you have to be patient with yourself and learn that its okay to make mistakes;

You will have time to discover so much about yourself through teaching English as a foreign language that it could change literally your entire direction and place in the world. In each class; you’ll be instructed to teach one segment to a group of students; helping to further their knowledge to a set curriculum; the fun part comes in planning your lesson with your fellow CELTA trainers and incorporating your experiences as well as your students.

I now work as a Foreign Trainer with Disney English China, living and working in the big wonton melting pot of Guangzhou, famous for it’s tropical climate, dumplings and some of the most endearing students you’ll ever find in Asia. 

It’s a long way from teaching adults through the CELTA: but you’ll pick up so many ideas on how to model context; in a fun and engaging way that with a little handiwork you can adapt for younger learners; Only in the past week; I’ve dressed up as a grocer; a yoga instructor and in various wigs; each time resulting in the kids howling with laughter; while also importantly practicing the target language.

What advice would I offer budding English teachers who are thinking of taking on the CELTA? I’d say have an open mind; don’t be afraid to express your ideas and make sure to ask questions!

Get to know your students and incorporate their experiences into the class; for example; in one of our classes; I was instructed to teach the idiomatic language of ‘close shave’ which resulted in many personal stories being told throughout the class; it’s moments like these that make you stick with language teaching and also; get to know your trainers too!

I was lucky enough to have a supportive group of teachers; all with a wide background of experience in language teaching and studying at Swansea University; you are blessed with one of the most multicultural campuses in Wales and you will meet so many people if you try hard and it will help you get the dream job abroad;  So remember to study hard, have a social life and get to know your students; It’s a position that you’ll feel proud of and gain so much from; believe me; it’s worth the essays!