Shawan and Huangpu: Random ramblings in temples and villages as usual.

There’s an element of risk that comes with travel: One minute; you could be idly enjoying a particular scrumptious plate at some quaintly run-down noodle shop, the next you could be rushed to hospital with so many tapeworms they need name tags.

So when I lumbered onto the metro line followed by some rather dubious bus journeys on my way to Shawan and Huangpu this Wednesday and Thursday, I counted the places I had been in my head once more, maybe to remind myself that despite moments of uncertainty: I’d seen some pretty curious things in my time in Guangzhou so far.

I’ve never been very good at keeping a diary; I keep ticket stubs; I like to write about my experiences online…talking to…someone…I suppose…maybe myself…who knows?…anyway, first off: I set my sights on Shawan Ancient Village in Panyu;

 

Shawan: Sleepy old ghost town

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About an hour away from central Guangzhou: Shawan seemed another opportunity to see how the other side of China lives: You won’t find KTV booths here; there’s not even a 7/11; you get a sense of what China was like before it was thrust into the modern age of selfies, social media and hundreds upon hundreds of types of Hong Kong style waffles. 

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At first, it really seemed like the locals had given up on the village; there was certainly this overriding sense that I was the only tourist in town; therefore nobody had bothered to set up shop: There’s no official entrance; I just stumbled in; and bought a dusty old ticket; luckily, some city dwellers soon appeared to join me in a pre-amble around the historical Buddhist flecked surroundings of sites such as Wenfang Tower;

 

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Prayer ribbons abound; I’d first come across these little red ribbons of luck back in Lijiang; who leaves them there is a slight mystery; you don’t see many of the locals comign to pay their respects to the tower; 

Nevertheless, I spent a good half hour just trying to make a video blog; something I’d like to personally achieve in the next few entries; once I’ve gained enough experience my to wax lyrical, poetical and fantastical language on old stuff and golden gods of Buddha;

I am into the Buddhist faith from a strictly cultural and historical perspective; yet there is a small glimmer of faith in the power of Buddhism to change lives for the better; particularly with meditation; particularly Transcendental Meditation; a technique unconnected to to spiritual world of the Buddhism; but still a glimpse into something beyond ourselves.

 

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Anyway; the fact I rambled proves that perhaps; while Shawan may have once been a great place for a day out with the family; it’s now a very peaceful; non-touristic tourist attraction; don’t come for a glass of wine and a bit of lunch however; the shops are closed; the locals are asleep; “Everything is broken and no one speaks English” as Tom Waits once quipped.

Some people have mentioned to me that Thailand and it’s temples have lost their edge in the grip of tourism; yet, I must admit; I feel more wowed by their golden pagodas than I have felt in a temple in China so far; the most spiritual element here has to be the ‘Tobleroneesque’ incense burning all around the main temple of Shawan; You know it’s a spiritual experience when you want to frantically order the temple awnings on Amazon:

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Ancient Huangpu Port and Village

So after a long day; I lay in bed after an evening of misadventure to take on the dizzying heights of Ancient Huangpu Port and Village; an old fisherman’s town; where the fisherman have resorted to jobs in cafes or dumpling stalls; as a result of the lack of anything going on in the lake or the village itself; another long metro journey; so close to some random Chinese people it was like we were dating.

 

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IMG_2874.JPGThe most interesting part of Huangpu has to be the maritime museum and it gets worse from there; needless to say; after the quick jog around Shawan the previous day; I was at least hoping for some seafood; but nevertheless; the history of trade in China is vast and ongoing; you get the sense that it’s a nation which never stops; it may have a cup of tea and a bowl of dumplings; but still; trade is everywhere…

Yet I don’t regret each experience of this weekend;  it’s better than relaxing by a pool; though sometimes, maybe a relax by a pool; the simple taste of fresh fruit and music is all you need; I will keep this in mind for my next experience: I’m not done with temples of the villages; but it’s time to find my mojo; buy a few quilts and seek out the next experience.

I ate…This weekend, I’ve been to Social and Co to find they had something resembling a Taiwanese Bao; to be honest; it wasn’t so good; but the cocktail was photogenic:

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Secondly; I stumbled into NoodleBar in Zhujiang for a slightly overpriced Shrimp Laksa in a hipster restaurant; admittedly; I was starving after my day at Huangpu and should have walked out when the price upgrade was due to 3 more shrimps being placed in the bowl. Still good to try and I may go back for something a little cheaper sometime.

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Cocktail of the Week: Happy Monk at The Happy Monk(Zhujiang New Town)

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 A medicinal medical hit with Pineapple and odd sauces…lovely…. which during Happy Hour is worth the three quid; otherwise, stick to a beer.

Meditations on Temples: Chanting the mantra in Guangzhou!

“They say Karma’s gonna get you…”

Temples hold a great power over me, ever since a few of my trips to Thailand to see the great wats; I’ve meditated in Buddhist centres in the UK: but when the focus is paired down to a deep relationship between the Buddha, the white light and all the offerings…I usually just end up thinking about the delicious salty snacks laid before the enlightened one.

No, for me; it’s truly about the temple atmosphere; legends guarded by guardian lions; mermaid princesses and giant statues; You can’t turn your face away from this kind of imagery; it’s actually kind of an insult within the faith itself to turn your back to it;

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The first prayer ribbons encountered in Lijiang, Yunnan, China. 

I grew up in Britain; where some religions heavily featured violent or graphic images;  those memories are covered in a literal smell of dust that is hard to summarise on a social media platform…but anyway this was why I was excited to see what Guangzhou had to offer;

 

1. To Chen Clan Academy…

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My adventure started with Chen Clan Academy; which started life as a short-term accommodation space in 1888.; a sort of frat house for Chen Clan members to sit provincial exams; a wordsmith, a Mr.Guo Moruo obviously brushed up on his poetry a bit on this one; writing the following poem in praise of such an academy;

‘Nature’s engineering can be replaced by human creation, yet human creation cannot be surpassed by natural force.  The human world is created  in a way like this, a visit to this place is better than ten years learning from books’

While not strictly a temple; those ten years as a bookworm are rightly a waste compared to the rooftops of the academy; something I’ve noticed as a sure sign of a temple; a quick google search reveals Chen Clan as an academic temple; which mostly consists of a series of dramatic rooftops depicting everything from flowers, birds to scenes of Cantonese soaps of the time;

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For me; coming from a place where our history is depicted in solemn, almost dowdy or melancholic; even the statues of Chen Clan could be called fruitful; consider my bouche amused and hungry to be led by lions to the various incarnations of Gautama Buddha;

 

2.  Xiaozhou Village;

Which led to me to Xiaozhou village; a short bus ride away from the bustling; “shop, shop and eat” culture which envelops Guangzhou; Xiaozhou village in itself is a chance to see what life in China would have been like nearly 30-40 years ago; a mural of Chairman Mao smoking a fag; confirms your trip back into time;

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The shrine here is less about the pictures for WeChat or Instagram; it’s a great glimpse into local beliefs and how faith and belief is a personal thing in Buddhism; rather than something you have to spread to the rest of the world;

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Small and solemn buddhas at Xiaozhou

As a result; it ranks on the rather small scale, but it’s a good starting point and a good excuse to visit Xiaozhou; which has sort of charmingly given up on tourism. I’m a big fan of those postcard pictures; where you sort of superimpose the old and the new; or just the local site; Yes it’s a great place for budding photographers; Check out the Oyster house in Xiyuan!

Some sites in Xiaozhou

3. Renwei Temple

A quick boat ride a week later and I was heading to Liwan Lake Park; to check out Renwei Ancestral Temple; the first full temple I’d stumbled into; In China; temples aren’t the boisterous affairs that you encounter in Thailand; this isn’t a measuring contest; but things are very different in China when it comes to Buddhism; it’s on a smaller scale Temple wise.

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What was wonderful at Renwei is the little statues encased in kind of a rotating case; the closest comparison I can see is the prayer wheels of Nepal; which mainly depict the mantra over any actual depictions of the Buddha; 

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Renwei enjoys a history of over 900 years; how can you not be impressed, simply by visiting old stuff and being alive to enjoy experience how people used to live; and how the local people have made a community around the history and kept it alive.

 

4. Liurong Temple

But this isn’t enough surely? You can’t just smell the incense and give up as a Temple Runner; I took a rest and found myself the next week in Liurong Temple or more well known by foreigners as Banyan Tree Temple; I’d seen the temple from the famous Canton Tower and vowed to trade the steel building for something a bit more karma centric; So I shuffled in and lit some incense…and what a temple it is:

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It started to rain, my feet were soaked; shoes ruined etc;  but the Lotus Pagoda as it’s also, also known was a sight to behold as you can see from my random images; it’s named as such due to it’s habit of giving out light; imagine the feeling you’d have had back in old 537 AD. Seeing those 9 layers shining out…awesome!

But even more than that; the three fairly middle weight statues definitely depict some kind of teenage phase of our golden gods;  They are like naughty schoolboys rather than supreme beings dictating the life of us ‘Germs with shoes’ as Bill Hicks used to say.  The rain didn’t dampen my spirits; but it did ruin my shoes!

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Then on and on; after a delicious meal of Prawn Summer Rolls and Seafood in a coconut with boiled rice at Tiger Prawn; a Vietnamese/Thai restaurant down in Beijing Lu…or Beijing Road to the tourists…

5. Dafo Ancient Temple

…I came across Dafo Ancient Temple; right in the middle of all the chaos of one of Gunagzhou’s main eating/shopping district;  the same imagery of the lions is here; led by some fairly confident herders; again the emphasis here is on the great bounty of the Buddha.

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The most curious artifact here is the White Buddha; being attended to in a no-go zone for those who haven’t sacrificed their life to live in the temple, instead of randomly shuffle around them; this was like the VIP room of every club you ever went to as a teenager;

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Still it made you curious what the life of a Buddhist monk must be like; all the orange robes; incense burning; is it the same coveted items that drives some people to become a police officer? or a professional football mascot?  Earlier in the week; I’d come across a female monk in the street; something I found refreshing to what surely must be a little bit of a boys club.;

The construction work that goes on with temples isn’t talked about much, perhaps it’s not particularly of any importance to most people; but does it remove the magic? like a magician with his pants down and a rabbit poking out his arse? No…but it’s important to give a resounding thanks to all the effort that goes into crafting the temples as seen here:

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6. Foshan Temple

So; we are led to Foshan to encounter Zumiao Temple; where the temple lions have gnarled claws and the memory of China’s greatest Kung-Fu master Ip man lingers; a perfect mix of noble character and talent; which is historically described as a Lotus Flower in Chinese culture. Ip man’s most famous student was of course; the Hong Kong born Bruce Lee; who definitely traded dumplings for dumbbells in a quest to become a Kung-Fu master under the Ip man.

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Relics from the life of Ip man…

 

While here; I managed to get a temple to myself; where my hand was halfway to my camera phone and halfway to my timer; I’m a practicer of Transcendental Meditation and have worked on films on the subject; the mantra comes in strong in this kind of environment; but it makes you wonder; Are we here to simply record everything? What’s that all about?  Why are there statues with fake beards…? What’s it all about…

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Which is why I’ll still visit more temples…Is there anything that makes you question yourself more than a few golden statues and a mantra?

Perhaps I’ll become a temple reviewer…

A templeviewer…? No, that doesn’t quite work…

This started life as a reflection on Buddhism and temples; I’m sure it all looked better while I was writing it…

 

 

 

 

 

Bar of the week: Sun in the Sky; a wine bar for the Warhol generation; go haunt the expensive clothes; I’ll be back for a 500 yuan shirt sometime around November…Featuring Wine Tastings very soon, which I’m getting involved in.

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Restaurant of the week: Tiger Prawn
If you love Thai/Vietnamese food this is a great place to dine alone or with just one other person as it’s always packed…the prawn summer rolls were a little past their prime; but seafood served in a coconut is sublime…also everything comes with sauce; I think the secret to any good restaurant is a lot of sauce; a good atmosphere and an extensive menu; as long as it’s not ‘all over the place’

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Snack of the week: Random Jelly Lollipops…Every wandered around and fancied something a bit like eating a breast implant? Me neither…but then; it’s sticky; it’s chewy and I’m hooked…

 

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Guangzhou: Diary 1 :

Guangzhou, it’s a melting pot;

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I tried to put off writing about it until I’d photographed and examined every inch of it; I’d landed on July 9th, slightly jet lagged and walked the streets, sauntering about to observe the society I’d been dropped into;

Following the first night, where I ended up staring into Karaoke booths; freaking out the locals and thinking of all the experiences Guangzhou and China had to offer; These are just some of the highlights from my trip so far;

 街头生活  (Street Life) 

Yes, Street Life; What do I mean by that; I’ve been able to simply wander the streets, finding great colours, textures and smells; One minute there’s an old fashioned guardian lion; the next there’s some kind of market stall full of dead sea-horses; or grandma has decided to do a special chant to commemorate a sale at her Lizhi store; China is heaven if you love people watching more than watching television.  The people are great, the  and the restaurants/stores stay open; which means you can get ice cream at 3am if you chose to do so….(just like Istanbul)

 

Every street is full of stories

Characters

Sounds

Life

Windows to look through

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2. “The superior man does not, even for the space of a single meal, act contrary to virtue.”(Confucius) 

It’s actually cheaper to eat out than it is to shop in a supermarket; I only go in for tonic water and those prawn chips that taste vaguely obscene;  As a result, I’ve been subjected to a series of very interesting experiences; from awkward moments where I’ve had to beg my Chinese friends to translate the menu via WeChat; to that amazing time I sat and had Pig Brain in Beijing; while the bar played Marilyn Manson at full blast.  (It tasted like Tofu)

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My favourite experience so far has to be having dinner with my partner-in-crime’s parents; not only did we communicate, despite my limited Chinese (méng méng da!) but it was a pure moment; It just felt like the best thing I could have been doing with my time in Beijing;  Also; we had Roast duck and ate Mahjong tiles made out of…something.

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Personally, I think Chinese food is totally based around the sharing culture;  Every waitress has seemed a little confused as to why I’m not chowing down on questionable roadside dumplings…probably made out of the sausages they sell at 7/11 all the time as I’m alone.

While I have done the whole street food thing; my favorite food tradition in Cantonese culture is ‘Yum Cha‘   You take a menu; check a few boxes and soon enough; you are having tea and dumplings;  I guess it appeals to my English longings for afternoon tea and a bit of a show; see below for the epic Mango Cream Yam Cha and Siu Mai (I once ordered Congee by mistake …no pictures…urgh)

 

 

Yum Cha…mmmmm

3.  Adventure is worthwhile 

In Guangzhou, here’s just a small plethora of the places I’ve visited, with the notes I’d attached at the time;

Lychee Bay– Really historical; sink a coffee here and take in all the beautiful lakes; Temples nearby; I nearly got chatting to an obviously european tourist; but never could find the words; so we basically had an unspoken travel photography battle in the temple.

Canton Tower– Amazing views of the old fashioned tower buildings. a bit misty and underwhelming.

Shamian Island– The boat cruise from Canton Tower is amazing.

Xiaozhoucun– Really old fashioned, countryside town; the streets are sleepier and it’s a great escape; if only to see the house made entirely of oysters.

Chimelong Safari Park– Sleepy Pandas and Badass Bears; the cable car ride is epic.  Even the animatronics and the Longleat style ride is worth the 300 RMB price.  Lovely to see families out and about.

Party Pier–  Sun in Sky; a fashion centre with good wine; I think I will have to visit it again soon; Especially given their amazing; if pricey shirts; a great space to walk around and imagine if life had been perfect and you’d been a born model.

Chen Chan Academy (Guangdong Folk Museum) – I sometimes think of myself as a temple Runner; I love the history; nothing really compares to the temples of Thailand; mainly because they still have a genuine function beyond tourism; but again, a beautiful place to throw time away.

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 4. Beijing;

Big shout out to the wonderful people I met on the TEFL-C!   Particularly those still based in Beijing and my Texan crew; basically; a week of hardcore teaching theory, which definitely wetted my appetite to go out in the evenings; I took the metro to various areas, particularly the Xijiaomin Hutongs; where I met a woman who wants to put QR codes on food, I can’t wait to meet my Beijing crew when I’m back in October.

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5. Chinese Future;

So finally, I was able to write a vaguely coherent entry about the last 3 weeks; what do I hope for now? Tomorrow; I’ll be looking for apartment and trying to find a place I can call my own;

On Friday; I have a mock lesson for a pet store using Total Physical Response and a week long of observations; Overall, I’m excited to get a place to call my own and finally applying for the permit that will allow me to visit Shanghai and Hong Kong (or Honkers!) with ease…lets go see what they eat huh!?

Thank you to all the people at Disney English so far who have made it an easy and fun trip (Rachel, Paul,  Lindsey, Stephen etc…you guys rule!)

 

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What I’ve learnt (teaching) so far:  Be aware of different sounds animals make in different cultures.

What I’ve learnt (personal) so far; Don’t always order by pictures; it could be congee. 

What I’d like to learn;  Chinese, beyond ‘I want…’

 

 

 

50 Shades of Bristol: Woky Ko

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Woky Ko

Woky Ko, one of the little worlds housed in a shipping container has a real charm: one of its real draws is that you cannot book, this is not a place to go to in order to impress your friends, save for a Sea Bass Tartare (£6.95) it’s a fairly simple hipster affair of Bao and Noodles.

It’s real strength is reflected in the offerings surrounding Wapping Wharf, you can make these at home, but I challenge you to make a Bao. We began with their Braised Pork, Hoisin Ketchup with Apple and Peanut Powder, a sticky peanut butter bomb of flavour that didn’t disappoint.

I’ve had Bao at the equally impressive Khao and Bao on Baldwin Street,  so I’m not going to deconstruct one with anything other than my teeth. All you need to know is that I’ve had wet dreams about Bao. Dreams which Larkin Cen has made a reality at Woky Ko.

Spiced Apple Scallop and the Tartare may impress some, but give anyone a Bao and they’ll discover something that has yet to become a full blown foodie trend.  The first chef to find a way to make them as popular as hipster hamburgers or import them tastefully into our supermarkets will be burned at the stake for practising magic. Larkin Cen; Please give me the recipe, I’ll dedicate my life to making it happen.

We also had the Crispy Duck Rice Noodle Salad (£7.95) and Braised Pork Chow Mein (£8.95) which were both rich in flavour, particularly after smothering it in Sriracha. Perhaps the simplicity of these dishes is something that would put off those who had designs to eat at Box E Bristol, but for a casual dinner, it’s certainly one of the best on the Wharf.

If you lived nearby, it’s a hipster lifeline: Washed down with a few Korean Beers or something Wilder at Wild Beer, you do leave feeling blessed in a city with many vibrant Asian offerings or faux Asian broth houses such as Cupp 

Wapping Wharf is slowly building itself as an alternative to the usual Harbourside jaunt. As it develops, I look forward to seeing what else can go in Bao, given they serve up a Salted Caramel Ice Cream Bao (£4.25)  which felt like a step too far, I’ve been thinking of new types…Sushi Bao? Ramen Bao? Bao Bao?

Honourable Bristol Mentions: 

The Old Duke

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From the colourfully adorned ceiling, to the tribute to one of the locals at the bar, this place has a real 60’s Pub vibe, which is complimented by a regular line up of Jazz. Save for The Canteen, it’s hard to find good music on a Sunday lunchtime, usually places are filled with screaming children; so it’s good to visit somewhere for lonely people.

 

20th Century Woman

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At www.watershed.co.uk/  

20th Century Woman has all the usual traits of an art film, framed around a family drama where the heroine is a chain smoking older mother, dealing with a ramshackle bunch of relatives who just haven’t found their way. It’s difficult to sum up what happens or the characters themselves without resorting to tired stereotypes about Hipsters, but from the Talking Heads soundtrack, to the club scenes, it has the same charm as Marmite; you’ll either love it or hate it.

 

 

Manchester Chinese New Year: Musings and Mithering.

As Morrissey woefully sang: ‘Manchester, so much to answer for’

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Manchester has a feeling to it: in a particular frame of mind, it could be quite intimidating, but it’s evolved from an area which explores the condition of the working class in England to a cultural and well-meaning city.

From the moment you arrive at Piccadilly, you are greeted by (presumably) the old relics of textile buildings, which now either house Artisan Coffee shops or chic apartments.  The Northern Quarter is also home to a wealth of street art which can soothe the initial ruptures you might have about staying in MCN.

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We began gagging for a drink at The Font, which from £2 leaves you with enough money left for a bit of dinner. Admittedly, they weren’t the best, but the Camden Beer on Tap is always a safe bet. As we waited for our Airbnb hosts to arrive, it was a good pit stop.

Finally, after unpacking,  we venture out to St Ann’s square to try the Street food for Chinese New Year, one of the biggest events in Manchester. It had been our main aim, it’s a long way to come for a Beijing  Jianbing, but oh so worth it: a crunchy omelettey textual experience, perhaps a bit more spice would do it justice, but still:  the experience was good, we were happy, didn’t need white tablecloths or fine wine,  just a half decent Martini.

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Mei Mei’s Street Cart, the only place to get Jianbing in the UK. 

Speaking of Martinis, we then decided to stick to our reservations, going for a quick few drinks at Liquorice. It was all about being seen, but we’ve made a sacred vow to only ever order Martinis from now on. The amount of sugar and ice in cocktails these days is one of the greatest difficulties in Britain, it’s up there with Austerity. 

We stood around, taking it in and speaking about cultural differences, random little topics with perhaps a few language barriers. I seem to be able to pronounce Chinese effectively, the trouble is remembering it after a few. This is why writing exists; to give context to the content, though describing a feeling is not the same as feeling it and experiencing is much the same.

Okay so then on to Asian Fusion eatery Cottonopolis, via a Bowie mural and a few cocktail bars we should have visited instead: great cooking was likely going on, drowned out entirely by a cacophony of terrible music and people who just wanted to be seen there.

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Cottonopolis leads you in with Bao and breaks your heart with music. 

 Never has the mantra that dining is about more than food been clearer. But still, alone it would have been torture, but in this case; we had the power to realise that better thing were to come…Frankly Cottonopolis is a bit shit really.

Anyway, The Fitzgerald looked after us a little better, a few cocktails before becoming jaded and moving onto Gin. Anywhere screening classic movies with a ‘DJ’ is at least somewhat bearable. There was a drunken dancing couple, the usual hipsters and a few ladies nights.

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The Fitzgerald

In good stead, we spoke about everything from Chinese Artists, The Prohibition and onto the etiquette of prostitution. All of which needs to be written down in order to be remembered. At 2am, we are out in the breeze.

Via a few mystical fish, we arrive to see the Chinese New Year parade, dodging Mancunians and trams on a regular basis. Chinatown Manchester is an interesting environment, I couldn’t help wish we could have seen it when it wasn’t as busy, but hey ho, you can’t mither. Dragon Dancing and creepy Buddha heads abound.

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Next onto the Warriors, firm and almost neon statues which have graced places like Sydney. We were drawn to a pregnant female Terracotta. Beautifully done standing among the same-same, but different warriors.

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After which, we still haven’t learnt that most cocktails have been diluted to appeal to those with less adventurous palates. But what a building, Tattu is like an artwork in itself, it’s just a shame the food can sometimes taste of Condoms or something from Iceland.  Still…mustn’t mither. MUST NOT MITHER.

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Despite this, I’d maybe go out for a cocktail and a bit of beef tartare. Sometimes it’s about hiding your carefully refined taste and learning to just enjoy your moments. As such, it wasn’t a total disaster and a good way to spend New Year.

All in all, Manchester we salute you. You aren’t quite Bristol, but you have some charm… Particularly in the foreign districts. 

Now onto Bristol the 25th of February and 4th of March. Thank god there are only 28 days in January.  

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Hopefully we can discover more Bowie Artworks in Brizzle…

The Pub Bore Almanac

‘You want old bores, go to the pub’

Thaddeus of Edessa

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The Crutch, Charlie Trotman. 

How about an evening amid strewn packets of scampi fries, cheap suits and the occasional dog?  Listening to someone find opportunities to talk about themselves, while you wear the expression of a docile garden gnome? We could have built Buddhist temples, we could have mimicked the bars of Barcelona and put a bit more effort in; but no, the great British invention is The Pub.

No matter how we try, we just don’t seem to be able to shake it off; the general Groundhog Day facades and Wetherspoons carpets. I’m not talking about the kind of boozers full of wasabi peas and tacky shit; Don’t get me started on those ‘smugstitutions’ either.

I’m talking about the places where the owner drinks more than you and the 1960’s never seemed to happen. Where anything that isn’t brown is considered girly and the aged go to die.

Pubs used to be sites of great political power, unfortunately; the biggest thing politically that has happened in a pub is ‘The Beer Hall Putsch’ of 1923, in which somebody called Adolf Hitler decided to mince around to get people to listen to him:

‘When Hitler did return to the main hall, it was in such disarray that he fired a shot from his pistol into the ceiling and threatened to put a machine gun in a gallery if the people in the hall did not settle so that they could hear him.’

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Sound familiar?   Hitler, the classical pub bore, wished to install a machine gun to get people to listen to him. Curiously, they soon began to listen and agree. Presumably the same landlord of the Munich Beer Hall went on to open up Wetherspoons and Britain has now thrived with similarly aloof Fascists, armed with a  purple UKIP banner and a copy of the Daily Mail. Easy targets sure, but definitely not as easy to look at.

The second greatest political event to happen to The Pub was the Craft Beer Revolution, which was only slightly less bloated than Stalin himself.  Suddenly, another loathsome creature emerged in the beer bars, this creature didn’t so much have a story, but they did have a tasty beer, this was The Beer Bore.

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The Beer Bore is typically male, loves Beer and has very little interest in what you have to say,  but god does he know a thing or twelve about Cascade Hops. His girlfriend typically stands like a shiny faced pawn among the spiky, leather handbag types;  They tend to be vegan, but they aren’t adverse to getting pissed and forgetting about it.   

If you buy them some nuts, you’ll undoubtably bought the wrong kind.  Like all young, hip vegans; supporting the suffering caused by the purchase of drugs is perfectly fine, as long as you put a Sweet Potato in,  If you don’t have one in the oven, just pretend you intend to or that you are fasting; it’s the only thing more cool than being a Vegan is deliberately not enjoying yourself.

If you are going to partake in the Pub ; It’s important to know how to match the person you are drinking with,  always look interested, always act like you aren’t there to simply get pissed, be sure to always be on the same level; lest the parasite decide they want to suddenly talk about the Beat Generation;  some people can knock it back; some people are so malnourished that a night out with them is like a William Hogarth’s Gin Lane.

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Then they might try and hide their malnourishment with Fascism…again…

They knock back a few dodgy vodkas and then it’s onto the Dive clubs, full of sketchy types who were probably also in the pub. The important thing to remember is that if you aren’t on the same level, you will either be not drunk enough to deal with them; or too drunk to care. Smoking is now a no go zone, even though it shortens your time in the pub; you might get a bit of schtick, but it’s definitely cooler to vape. 

Photographs in the pub are always lame, unless you are commenting specifically on your drinking problem or trying to appear a little out of control, eating in the pub is a sin; beyond a few handfuls of KP peanuts, alcohol is the food on the pub, Fish and Chips might be on the menu, but you have to wait specifically until the end of the night, when all you can taste is Desperados.

Gigs on the other hand, are almost one the saving graces of being in the pub; it’s probably the only thing separating them from an episode of Eastenders. Usually it’s a cover band, sometimes it’s something eclectic, even vaguely listenable that you’ll never find the time to jot down;  eventually the band will be living in the pub with you, so get to know these people, they beat your family; who are essentially evolved out of the pub bore, this is an exact science as nobody would get pregnant without the pub.  Not even the old men drinking Guinness.

If you get bored of the music or playing Sigmund Freud for all your friends, then it’s definitely time to start trying to get on the person you were least likely to have hooked up with that very morning; this requires a certain tenacity and lack of respect for the values of your existing friendship.

Be warned, you’ll definitely come up in a pub quiz if you head down the Sex route;  You’ll ultimately last longer after a few; but be warned you might not get off. If you are ugly, another good thing involving balls is pool; pool is the national sport of one-upmanship;  You could be Oscar Wilde and nobody would find you cutting if you can’t hit in a few reds.

So there we have it; go to the pub and take my advice; you’ll glide through the quiz and you might even enjoy yourself; Remember; this is the good olde nation of Pub Bores; you cannot escape this; it might be written as an almanac; but it’s more of a rule book;  Look on my works, ye Mighty and despair! I think that’s worth about 20 points on the quiz?

beer-largeCheers to that.

The Directionless Generation

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Advice and Structure doesn’t just end with school.

I have so many friends who were treated well when they were younger, they all grew up with Tamagotchi’s and the latest Disney movies, they never missed out on a school trip; Their lives were structured. Then they turned eighteen and their parents stopped helping them. 

We spend so many years in the cotton wool world of secondary school,  you turn around and find;  it’s up to you to decide whether to go to College, work for a paltry zero-hours contract or go to India to ‘find yourself’ 

They told you in school that if you didn’t do well, you wouldn’t amount to anything; so you take on a job in a phone shop and find that the structure suits you, okay it means you have to flat share; maybe get in a bit of debt, but nobody ever explained that the same debt incurred by Student Loans is never going to be possible to pay back. So you work and go out on the lash, perhaps fall in love or just sleep around.

Yet, much like the fact nobody ever explained that University Debt is totally invisible; you are left wondering where your life is headed, if you’ll actually grow out of perpetual student mode.

The Christmas shoppers descend upon your phone shop and you want to quit because the manager is practicing his best Donald Trump, day in-day out mithering at you to meet your sales targets. You want to quit your job, but you are already in debt and the older you get, the harder it is to apply for a college or get into a University.

This is happening all around us at the moment; I’m not saying University is the answer to all your problems; I happened to pick at random and ended up in Northampton, which was a vast wasteland in comparison to the city of Swansea in which I lived (and that’s saying something)

 I was taken in by the idea of further education after a difficult secondary school and a frustrating college Education in something called ‘Media’  many of my classmates dropped out to work in call-centers lured in by the certainty of money. 

Their parents either lacked an awareness of the stresses of the modern world or in some way, decided that supporting their children through the early steps was sufficient. Some teens even end up having to pay their parents rent; as if they should magically know what to do as soon as they turn a certain age. 

Some parents even use money to control their children or fail to recognise the drudgery that a life without any clear guidance can produce. I’m fortunate to be aloof to this kind of challenge, as I’ve always had at least access to money. Therefore, it’s impossible for me to feel entitled to let any personal sniping or emotional problems of any of my family get me down…Makes no difference to me.

Given that Rates of depression and anxiety among teenagers have increased by 70 per cent in the past 25 years.’  This type of neglect is creating further distance between young adults and their parents; they see their job as the caregiver to be over with and never have the privilege to think of their teens as ‘friends’

I’ve seen friends spiral down into drug dependency and unhealthy relationships as a response to lack of guidance. I was lucky enough that one half of my parents was willing to support me financially; until I found a concrete opportunity to work abroad.

I was encouraged to go up to London for interviews for Voluntary Service Overseas, which could be seen cynically as time I should have been putting money into the household.  It’s time to acknowledge that parenthood doesn’t have a sell-by date and that there is so much more obstacles in early adulthood than there ever was in the Tamagotchi days.