Monthly Archives: October 2014

Beijing

The Backhouse family head for work

The Backhouse family head for work

So, yeah, it’s been a while. Sorry about that. Basically, at some point after my last blog entry, Africa decided it was going to try and kill us. I’m not going into it, but there were multiple hospitalisations, tropical diseases, intransigent employers and men with machetes. It was not a good year.

Still, onwards and upwards, right? We got the hell out, eventually, and I went and worked in a comp in Weston-super-mare for a few months. Met some lovely people, most of whom were leaving. I experienced the indescribable delight of having a student shout “who the fuck are you?” at an Ofsted inspector. The inspector, rudely I thought, declined to answer, but chose instead to make a note of something on her clipboard. I can’t imagine what. Anyway, she bafflingly spent less than the required twenty minutes in my room so I was denied the Outstanding grade that should rightfully have been mine. Still bitter. Seriously, there may have been fewer elephants but for genuine thrills and terror you’d be better off reading a blog by any one of the majority of British teachers who don’t bugger off to the other side of the world at a moment’s notice.

Which we’ve done again. Five months in Weston was more than enough, and anyway, I’d already got another job sorted out. I’m now HOD at a right posh school in Beijing. I shan’t tell you which one, though I managed to be discreet enough about Saints whilst I was there, I think. That’s Saint Andrew’s International High School, Blantyre, Malawi. Turn left out of the tin airport, take the third right after the begging leper. Watch out for the lone man painting the lines on the road by hand.

China is an odd place. This is perhaps obvious. We’ve been in Beijing two months now and still have almost no idea about the city. The sheer size of it is incredibly intimidating. For example, I have been out for a drink in Sanlitun, the most popular expat drinking area, twice now. The reason this has happened so infrequently is because Sanlitun takes forty five minutes in a taxi, and that’s if the roads are clear, which they absolutely never are. That’s like living in Bristol, but deciding to go for a drink in Cardiff, or Swindon. Obviously, you wouldn’t do that. I mean, even if Cardiff or Swindon weren’t bloody awful places filled with illiterates bleeding into kebabs, they’re just too far away.

Anyway, I’ve got lots to say, but haven’t really ordered my thoughts yet. I want to talk about the language, 50% of which consists of the noise “shur”; the pollution, which is awful and oppressive; my job, which I’m already messing up in an amusing fashion; Wei, my housekeeper, who is delightful; and the fun of teaching in a really, really posh place. A mid-level British Royal is coming to visit tomorrow; I’m planning on teaching that Wordsworth poem about the French revolution, all day long.

For now though, here’s a picture of noun waving the Chinese flag in Tian’an’men square, he’s a big hit here, and hasn’t he grown?

Every single other person in Tiananmen that day photographed him, so I thought I would too.

Every single other person in Tiananmen that day photographed him, so I thought I would too.