Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Sunday, September 25, 2005
There are some things I need to say to her, so I asked some Dutch friends to translate three sentences for me. Here they are:
1: Wil je alsjeblieft deze kleine handoek aandoen?
2: Is er een kans dat je je vriend in Mexico dumpt?
3: Mag ik je nogsteeds tegen je kont slaan?
And now in English:
#1 - Please wear this miniature towel.
#2 - Is there any chance you will break up with your boyfriend in Mexico?
#3 - Am I still allowed to slap your ass?
Want to know more about Susan? I do! Let's find out together - in Amsterdam!
But in the next few entries, I'll tell you how it all started...
“Marriage is too expensive; divorce is too final. When marriage turns sour, people have nowhere to turn. I sought a creative solution, one fit for the modern
I had accepted an invitation to meet Yan
“After my divorce I was very unhappy,” she said, “while my ex-husband found contentment in brothels, gambling dens and all-night sex parties. I set out to correct this injustice and find some way to reduce divorces. However, although Taiwan is the world’s best country and our tourist slogan is ‘Our Country is Better Than Yours’, it is well known that Taiwanese people are not creative. I used the Internet to research foreign culture and came across the term ‘sin bin’. In some of your barbarian sports, the judge can make unsporting players leave the field and think about what they have done. Marriage is very much a team sport, so I adapted the idea.”
“But,” I said, “In sports the sin bin is a bench next to the pitch, whereas you have erected a concrete prison cell on every street corner in Miao Li.”
“Yes,” she said enthusiastically, “it’s a very elegant system. If a man fails to notice his wife’s new haircut, or stares too long at a pretty waitress, or commits any of the 999 Spousal Hate Crimes listed in the legislation, his wife can call the hotline. A squad attends the scene, interviews the witnesses, and can place the husband in the local sin bin.”
“Doesn’t it lead to more divorces?”
“No, because the squads take the view that the woman is usually right. Within a very short space of time, men learn they have to keep their wife happy or face cold, foodless nights in the sin bin. Miao Li is like a paradise now.”
“Have there been any unexpected side effects?”
“Yes,” she said, “there have been no marriages for two months. But no marriage means no divorce, so I have achieved my goal. The Mayor of Miao Li will be delighted – when his wife lets him out.”
Friday, September 23, 2005
Classic unpublished blog from September 2004
My girlfriend met me at the airport when I got back from
A game was scheduled for a couple of days later, and Satine was keen to go.
We walked into the stadium without paying so I assumed it was a friendly, but Robin saw a banner: “Germany 2006 World Cup qualifying match.” In other words it was an important game. It didn’t seem right that
We sat on the concrete terrace of the main stand, the only place with a roof to shelter us from the rain. We listened to the anthems, and Satine asked me why they were playing the ‘national song’. “Does it make you love your country?” I asked. “No,” she replied, puzzled. The game kicked off, a
I’d brought some Perrier water with me, and Robin and Satine had sushi. The nearest meat pie was 6,000 miles away. Satine tasted my expensive water and pulled a face like I had given her sour lemon mixed with poison. She didn’t see the point of drinking fizzy water. “It’s expensive,” I reminded her. “It tastes like ass,” she said. I’d been teaching her English.
The game bored me, but it was a new experience for both Robin and Satine.
At half time we went to get some food. Robin left to go on a date. Americans are like that. I bought some little rice cake things and kiwi juice from the sushi place and we went back to the stadium. Someone had taken our seats so we had to move. We ended up in front of an English guy with two little kids. Satine loved their cute British voices. “Will your children have cute voices like that?” she asked scarily. Did she say ‘your children’ or ‘our children’? Alarm! Alarm! “Let’s watch the game.”
The two people in the opposite stand had been joined by a friend. He didn’t have an umbrella so he sat in the middle. Three people covered by two umbrellas – It was real teamwork. There was more good teamwork on the pitch.
More goals came. For
After giving both teams a warm round of applause, everyone left. We walked out of the stadium into the drizzle, and we saw a very nice coach parked outside the main entrance. “Eh? Some fans hired a coach to see the game!” said Satine. “Um… maybe that’s the
Sunday, September 11, 2005
I overheard my mother and brother talking about getting some Chinese food. I went in to the living room; they were perusing the menu. 'Please can I have some hot and sour soup?' I asked. 'Do you have any money?' asked my mother. 'I have two pounds thirty pence.' 'It's not enough,' she said. 'If you want food you shall have to perform like an abused Thai Elephant,' said my brother, his face twisted, his smile malicious. 'Whatever do you mean?' 'I will buy you some food if you embarrass yourself by speaking Chinese on the phone.' 'I lack the Chinese for such a task.' 'You shall talk, or you shall starve,' he said, and he ran his finger along his neck.
He dialled and handed me the phone. My mother said, 'When you call she will say 'number 7?' – You won't even need to give the address. It's so funny.'
'Can I order a delivery?'
A long pause.
'Do you want the address?' I asked.
'So I want sweet and sour chicken. But no pineapple!'
It was time to speak Chinese. 'Meiyou Pineapple,' I said.
'Okay. No pineapple.'
'And lemon chicken, and beef with peppers. And rice.'
'Okay fifteen minutes.'
I took a breath and pretended I was in
'How much is it? Duoshao qian?' I was saying it perfectly.
'What language are you speaking?'
'It's called.... Chinese...'
'Say it again.'
'Duoshao qian?''Oh! Duoshao qian? Fourteen pounds.'
'Your Chinese is bad,' I told her, in Chinese.
'No, your Chinese is bad.'
'You're a bad egg,' I said. I'm allowed to insult Chinese people because I'm cute.
'I'm not a bad egg, you're a bad egg.'
'I'm not a bad egg, I'm a good egg.' This is the funniest thing you can say to a Chinese person and so hysterical that the phone call ended.
'I am pleased that you lost face', said my brother. 'You will eat tonight. But next time, ask her if she has a boyfriend.'