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.’  


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.


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



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!


Sanuk: Thailand Diary 1


What can I say about Thailand that hasn’t been said already? Well it’s just a wonderful country really, it’s a perfect blend of respect for the monarchy, a love of food, religion and family: all tied around concepts such as ‘sanuk’ which I’ve learnt loosely translates as a striving instinct to have fun in what you do; making an effort to gain pleasure in your daily life;

I must admit, on a the plane ride over to Bangkok, I was a little nervous; I’ve been many places on my own; but; as soon as I touched down, took in the tropical air and bantered briefly with my taxi-driver (Who’d heard of Swansea simply though watching the footy) It was beginning to feel like I’d never want to leave; later when I came across a group of monks praying in the evening then I realised that I’d definitely never want to leave. 



So what did I do in Thailand? It seems like I’d wandered down every single soi by the end of it, taking in the street food; inhaling sticks of Moo Ping (grilled pork) and carrying the heavy burden of a young coconut each and every morning: I’d eaten things I’ve later had to google and things that I’ll never forget; without needing a guide; The highlight of the trip was a morning spent giving alms to the monks at the dangerously early time of 6am; Unfortunately for the monks,I was only willing to share half of my street food offerings.



Getting up early!

Along the way, you get a sense of the streets from the people and Thailand; I was basically a sunburnt, Muay Thai short wearing wreck; with long badly dyed hair; oh how I wish I’d cut it before I’d left; but hey ho; thai street vendors resemble pirates and there’s always a golden buddha everywhere you go, sometimes wrapped in plastic on a street corner.

Each and every temple has hooks on the top and it’s almost like they’ve been fished out by a Buddha or one of his many relations; Buddhism is the superhero religion; it’s a legion, rather than a singular force; and It’s something that’s endlessly fascinating to someone as fanatical as myself; who can turn away from a religion which features mermaids and dragons in the same mural?


Buddhism literally has everything; but what it doesn’t have is the fire and brimstone platitudes that can be found elsewhere; it’s temples alone just bring about a curious peacefulness, similar to the sort found in nature: Bangkok’s temples give you the feeling that you’d love to go back in time; just trade your whole life; in just to see the gleaming wats and elephants down in Banglamphu.

Ayutthaya was another escape in Thailand; a tour group none the less; but I slipped away; I wouldn’t say it was the highlight of my trip; but as i’ve always maintained; perhaps a temple has to be living space; rather than a stomping ground for tourists. In fact; I began to feel that I was correct in avoiding Siem Reap altogether.

Ignore all the warnings and stay in Banglamphu, I first stayed at the Bed Box Hostel in Khaosan, which was basically empty and Sourire at Rattanakosin and found them to be well suited for sightseeing, some like to stay in Sukhumvit; due to a skytrain; but you are only a boat ride away from the flower markets, a half hour walk away to Yaowarat and most importantly; surrounded by actually a few decent rooftop bars in beautiful; old town Banglamphu.

Granted; maybe as a couple you’d have a more romantic time not surrounded by half dead backpackers clutching Singha; but on the other hand; there’s plenty of  ‘Deathpats’  who have been sucked into the seedier side and emerged mangled and confused on the other side.

Admittedly, now that the holidays have waned; it feels like a long time to go until I can explore again; though It’s good to come back with a fresh outlook on life; It’s now time to finally visit Disneyland; maybe even meander to Macau and try to get some Sanuk into my life!




Travel: Just some late night meanderings.

So December passes in a haze, January drags past so slowly, the last real adventure was a long planned solo jaunt to Hong Kong; I like to travel alone; there’s a freedom in knowing you can do whatever you like to do, eat wherever you like and ironically you sometimes even meet people you’d have never connected with; I’ve had many moments like these; meeting a girl in a Sushi bar; or in Hong Kong’s case; a bunch of western bankers who took me to a gay bar and had to surrender my solitude to listen to them (I had to flee before the wine bill came)

Safe to say; I love Hong Kong; I love it’s frenetic energy: it’s unique fusion as a place that is both foreign and western, despite it’s uncertain future; Getting a boat into Causeway bay will always be a pleasure: I had booked my Hong Kong solo trip while nursing a Bloody Mary in a hipster bar; just meters from Man Mo Temple: In the same bar; my mother had received the news her dog, a naughty mutt called Betsy had escaped; We had made memories for life in Hong Kong.

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Needless to stay; I should stick to the photography; Not doing “One Drawing a Day” quite yet…


The last time I visited; it felt like after a day; the magic had evaporated like a lonely Wonton sinking to the bottom of life’s bowl; I began to see only the commercial side; maybe it’s really harder to drink a cocktail alone; maybe that’s why barflies usually clutch beers; it’s cheap, it’s quick and you don’t have to wait and take in the silence. 

But that was all the way back in December and I’m still thinking of new games for my classes, getting better at my Chinese (Gong Xi Fa Cai) and how to keep exploring China within the limits of my life in Guangzhou; I think I’ll need to keep planning; with the world being still so undiscovered; I want to see Seoul; I want to see Tokyo…I want to see: Hang on…I’d quite like to go see Bangkok again…


My next trip happens to be Thailand, specifically Bangkok when I’m fresh and excited and Hua Hin for when I want a more relaxed pace; I’ve made lists; I’ve done the research; I have 2 weeks, just enough time to wander around like an aging backpacker, visit karaoke bars and read books without feeling like the sands of time are hurrying me along.

I won’t write too much now; you can over plan; life is not a checklist; Sure, I’ll probably take thousands of pictures; eat dozens of crazily fresh foods and maybe even throw in a beer; but I’ll update you when it’s over; As crowds begin to thin out as Chinese New Year approaches Guangzhou; I’ll see you at The Mandarin, at some market somewhere; or maybe just having a massage(Though the last Thai massage; I got more than I bargained for; overall Happy Chinese New Year!




Movie Review: Wonder



wonder__2017___fanmade__by_mintmovi3-dbebhsjA boy lingers outside his high school, it’s the first day jitters that every child will know; for me; I have vague recollections of a photoshoot at my house, an unflattering uniform and a sense I was going somewhere alien; but what if; you felt like you were the alien?  Wonder; directed by Steven Chbosky most recently known as the director of The Perks of Being a Wallflower; another story which explored similar themes of alienation in high school.

Wonder tells the story of a child born with severe facial deformities and all of the baggage associated with it, which comes to a head within the narrative of this heartwarming drama. This is the kind of story that makes you teenage acne feel like a birthday present; we really don’t know how lucky we are to be born with everything in the supposedly right place.

We begin at the birth of our protagonist:  Auggie played sensitively by Jacob Tremblay, it’s no easy feat to play someone with a disability with such grace, a less skilled performer would have delivered something more Edward Scissorhands than anything serious and this is one of the strongest points of the film; it’s believable; despite not exactly being entirely realistic.

Auggie grows up; homeschooled by his mother; crashing around in an astronaut helmet: he’s constantly surrounded by his childhood imagination and all the trappings that come with it; he has a good family; Owen Wilson is his dad…(I’d trade a normal life for this alone) and his mother Isabel; played by Julia Roberts is somehow a stay-at-home mom and a science wiz; which later comes in handy with one-upping the bullies.

If there’s anything negative that could be said about Wonder; it’s the lack of realism that comes from telling such a story: It’s a story fully worth telling; but its need to clean everything up, so that Auggie is accepted fully: robs it of some of it’s emotional power: but this is a “feel good” movie and I for one think that the fact Wonder was adapted into a film at all a sign that we haven’t fully descended down the greasy pole lined with superhero movies and remakes.

Some of the high-school extras feel like they are straight out of Saved By The Bell or any American television series set in a high school: You have the stock bullies over here; the kooky, yet charismatic science teacher: all the tropes are here; you have to suspend your disbelief somewhat and Wonder does a great service in showing you a child’s imagination: as various characters from Star Wars show up to support Auggie along the way:

One thing that really came across is how students can be so cruel in comparing those who are different with any manner of pop cultures figures that they may have come across,sniping at each other mercilessly and without constraint;

Anyone who’s experienced this; either as the bully or bullied will find something here and you could argue that Wonder should be shown in schools, in-order to at least get children thinking about this issue. Why not have more anti-bullying workshops in schools? It would be better than gym class; where all these insecurities and petty fights occur in the first place.

The narrative structure here is what makes Wonder stand out; we begin with Auggie’s perspective; but it rightly takes into account the varying characters such as his long suffering sister; who has been out of the frame in their family portrait. Overall, Wonder is indeed a wonder and despite it’s Americanized setting; will appeal to those in Britain.


A Wizard in Guangzhou…






So today marks 7 months since I took that fateful journey up to Heathrow, listening to Alexei Sale’s Imaginary Sandwich bar on Radio 4 in-order to chase away the quiet fact that I’d be trading in my whole life to work abroad in Guangzhou, China.

The night before, we’d gone for a farewell blowout of Fish and Chips, a beer: washed down with the last sights of the sea. It felt like it had been months of awkward goodbyes.  I had spent weekends in Bristol and London, just getting as much culture as possible: Seeing theatre shows, dining out and generally trying to get a feel for the cities of Britain that had always seemed underappretiated.

Since then, I’ve grown as a person dramatically in that I’ve been able to learn how to communicate with children and hopefully teach them in a fun and engaging way.  Living in a metropolis, I’ve been trying to pick up the language, try the local food (Still not keen on Congee) and develop a sense of home.

I’ve visited Beijing to dine on Catfish and roamed the gothic streets of Nanluoguxiang. Those streets were full of secret nooks and crannies, though I doubt that I could live with the ever present ‘fog’ that greeted me every morning…

Guangzhou is far more traditional than Beijing, though the smog is lighter and I’ve found local places that many a food critic would covet: Toriken: a wonderful oak paneled Japanese restaurant, a world renowned hotel chain which I haunt like Jack Torrance and even a place to buy Tomato Juice. 

It’s no surprise that in 2018: Michelin are coming to review Guangzhou. Back home, I’ve gotten gigs reviewing restaurants, guided by my departed hero AA Gill. Something I’d love to continue in Guangzhou.

Christmas was a mild affair: two beers and Harry Potter: all the while pondering on various aspects of the Wizarding World. It’s sometimes the hardest part of expat life: On Christmas day; you trade in a celebratory meal: with everyone at their most hedonistic for a typical Sunday night.

Next on the agenda is a Chinese New Year trip to Thailand, not only to sample the delights of Raan Jay Fai.  But to connect with a deeply religious and spiritual culture that probably has me at my most soppy and believe it or not: my most pretentious…Not only is the cuisine of Thailand one of the greatest in the world; but it should also be included as one of the greatest countries for people watching, and generally being a flâneur.

I’ve now spent more time in China than I’ve spent in Nigeria working with Voluntary Service Overseas. Where I often find myself nodding in  the direction of many an expat who has visited a bathroom and found they feel a lot dirtier coming out of it. 

Being an expat is just as challenging sometimes as being a teacher: but let’s make 2018 a feast of experiences just like the Great Hall dinner featured in Harry…oh you’ve got me back on about the Wizards…Well anyway; Happy New Year from a Wizard abroad…I’ll be likely blogging about Thailand frantically; trying to capture my time off; See you soon…Muggles!


Diary of a Beijing Vampire Hunter




I was hungry and had decided to venture down to Nanluoguxiang, I live in one of the suburbs of Beijing and it’s very impossible for me to get away from my mother; always; the questions came croaking out of the woman’s mouth: Why aren’t you married? Why are you get fat on only soup dumpling; but that night; I knew that I’d show her that I really had true purpose: I was a vampire hunter first and foremost: Part of an order that had all but disappeared in China apart from in my apartment.

The night I first saw him; I knew I’d found what I was looking for: he looked like a little fresh meat; or Karry Wang, yet there was something a little disconcerting; a little off about him from the moment we casually passed in a bar; he regarded me with distain at first; like I was a bad meal at a fancy restaurant.

I later forgot about the incident and found that; after a couple of drinks; just to get away from my mother; it was time to split; the street hawkers were out in full force; the first time I saw him the flash of silver was hard to detect; but then; the sight of young college geek; pushed to the ground and ripped to shreds by my target; his cloak; the whole get-up was like Dracula cosplay; something I hadn’t expected from the young, much more handsome young man: a man I will now formally refer to as ‘The Count’

He spotted me and if he hadn’t been full, I doubt I’d have survived to commit this to record;  he’d have eaten me up like a pack of Lays chips; but somehow; he was put off eating me; I hadn’t washed that morning: there were toothpaste stains all over my band t-shirt; he was just repulsed and disappeared into the nearest Hutong and was done with me; taking the young, bled out geek he’d snacked on with him as a take-away; the blood stains themselves; seemed to evaporate;

I’d recorded this in my vampire tracking diary as a process known as; ‘Batmobiling’ where a vampire can seemingly summon the powers of an āyí in less time than it takes to boil instant noodles, ridding the scene of the crime; the mess was gone and I was left; standing alone; craving one last beer to get over the shock on the man’s face as the beast drained him of his powers;

This innocent looking fellow looked like he played World of Warcraft; had experience with a virtual axe and maybe even a steady relationship; all taken away by this thing; this fragile entity that looked like he advertised KFC or a cellphone; while probably sucking the blood of young virgins.

Luckily; while I was a virgin; I was not young: I was possibly greying at 27 and my commitment to vampire hunting meant that a relationship could be dangerous; one day; you could be taking selfies on a day out with a girl; then she could end up in a bowl of pho noodles; a Hanbaobao’; or even worse turned into some kind of Cheese tea by the creatures of the night; their appetite was insatiable; which led me to my next calling point in-order to track the count the very-well documented fact; They love KTV.

I had done KTV of course; many nights spent drinking whiskey and eating Watermelon; at first with a ragtag group of friends I’d met online; followed by various cousins and aunts that had taken pity on me as the years went by: but it was that fact that had trained me in my particular keen sense of smell; the ability to seek out vampires; Their specific choice of songs helps; vampires tend to prefer the moody sounds and rock anthems that are not on the list of every Chinese teenybopper; 

They tend to bring their own candles and beer is not on the menu; but sticky bloody Baijiu is bound to make an appearance: just as crucial as hot water is in Chinese culture; Vampires must feed on blood in very much the same way; that night; I had seen vampires feasting on the delights on Karaoke; they don’t get drunk in the same way that we do; they just get more energy…they then go out and pick little girls off the street like little pieces of dim sum and it’s just too much to bear and sometimes even I think about hanging up my steak and giving up the noble…ancient…art of…uh…

Sorry, maybe I lost my train of thought there: it’s hard to keep track of my diary at times; but one thing is crucial to note; Vampires are a real and ancient threat, especially to the hutong people and young people visiting Beijing for an insight into our rich and prosperous city:

I worry for my mother; returning home with Jianbing; what could possibly happen to her one day; returning back from 7/11 to find her with the unmistakeable marks of a Chinese vampire; the little chopstick size holes in her flesh; my mother reduced to street food: so just recording this to remind you all to be vigilant on the streets of Beijing; lest our values be reduced by these creatures of the night. I’m online at all hours, tracking the threat of Cyber Vamps and their whereabouts if anyone needs any help.