Beyond the Wings, September 2020

I am hardly alone in saying that many ambitions and resolutions for this year have had to be scrapped, from get a novel to submittable standard, to being able to bench my own weight. But there have been some consolations, and there may still be a few more.

Output

This month, I had a short story appear in an eBook from one of the Anglophone world’s most admired publishers, Manchester’s own Comma Press. It is about celebrity, and covers issues that are even more fraught now than when I wrote it at the end of last year.

I have also placed three new original songs on YouTube, an English one about the corporate world

Another English one about the government

And a Chinese one about infidelity

Activities

I have taken on new clients for ESL, as my tutoring continues to grow beyond my expectations. It has also been a relief to get back to certain places of business, from gyms to swimming pools, though like most people, I lost a lot of fitness during the March to August period.

Like everyone else, I am trying to keep it together emotionally. Music seems the best way of staying serene.

Wider World

With Covid infections way up, there is little hope that the end of 2020 will be any less miserable than the spring, summer, and autumn. I had been planning to write an essay about the American election, but it turns out Andrew Sullivan has already written it for me.

Beyond the Wings, August 2020

The summer has ended before it was obvious that it had even begun. As life slowly becomes more similar to what it was like before the crisis, it has probably been slightly easier to be productive.

Activities

After six months, I had my first live performance, getting the chance to debut the song ‘Truth Be Told’. The footage is out of focus, but the audio is fine.

With multiple projects on the go, a novel that still needs much work, a short story collection coming out next year, and a comedy writing course, I have concluded my series of weekly covers, bringing the total to 100. Highlights of the later ones include ‘Bridge over Troubled Water’ and ‘Train in Vain’.

Output

This month I did an interview about writing songs in English and Chinese with Egyptian educator and YouTuber Nour Negm.

And, since I was kicked off the joke-sharing website Sickipedia and can’t find a decent place on the internet to test my jokes, I have set up a Twitter account for original humour writing.

Wider World

Like a lot of others, near the start of the crisis, I read ‘The Plague’ by Albert Camus. Pertinent passages include this one:

“In this respect, our townsfolk were like everybody else, wrapped up in themselves; in other words, they were humanists: they disbelieved in pestilences. A pestilence isn’t a thing made to man’s measure; therefore we tell ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogy of the mind, a bad dream that will pass away. But it doesn’t always pass away and, from one bad dream to another, it is men who pass away, and the humanists first of all, because they have taken no precautions.”

On the subject of books that are relevant to current affairs, as the American election campaign reaches its business end, I have just started reading Philip Roth’s ‘The Plot against America’.

Beyond the Wings, July 2020

Business has started to tentatively reopen, but there is no end in sight to the covid crisis and the economic fallout has barely begun. Like millions of others, my professional future is deeply uncertain, but I will keep pursuing passion projects like music and writing regardless.

Output

My short story ‘Celeb’ will appear in an anthology by the Manchester-based Comma Press in the coming weeks. It will be my first published work of fiction to have no China connection. And the novel ‘Far from Strangers’ has nearly come to the end of another draft. I will be formally submitting it by the autumn.

I have also started trying my hand at sketch-writing. I have some scripts that I am happy with but will not be able to properly get going until outdoor gatherings are in full swing.

This month there are two new songs on YouTube, one Chinese

And one English

The latter mentions the late great Jack Charlton.

Activities

I am now a regular host on the Meetup app, a platform for finding kindred spirits. There is the Socially Awkward Sing-Song, which is held three times a month. And there is also the Mandarin Club, which I have just founded.

I am also trying t be as disciplined as possible in humour writing, but have little to show for it so far.

Wider World

This month I have been drafting an essay on-and-off that was set to take in the American election, China, Black Lives Matter, and other key issues of the day. It was more for the sake of getting my own bearings than for actual publication.

The most mentally unstable and morally unscrupulous man to have held the United States presidency since Andrew Jackson could be removed at the turn of the year. The only institution that can do this is the Democratic Party, an organisation that has fallen under the influence of a range of intellectually mediocre ideas, from ‘white fragility’ to what psychologist Gad Saad has called the DIE (diversity, inclusion, and equity) religion. In under a decade, these have gone from the fringes of academia to mainstream society.

It seems to be widely agreed now that Joe Biden is the favourite to win this November. The planned essay will not mention him at all, because, for all his faults, the fact that he is not lucifer is ample qualification.

Beyond the Wings, June 2020

After three-and-a-half months of forced solitude, the UK is slowly reopening. Pubs are set to open on the weekend of July 4th. The whole month of July could well be a disaster and businesses could be forced to close again by the end.  We’ll see.

I have been trying to keep somewhat productive and moderately sane.

Activities

I have started a comedy writing course. This has already resulted in dozens of jokes, some of which I’m quite pleased with, and the scripts for some sketches that I’ve been unable to film yet.

It is far from being a comedy, but I am revisiting my novel this week, hoping to finish a draft, and may even start submitting it, though it is still far from being the finished article.

Output

As well as keeping up with my miscellaneous covers of songs that I like, I have a brand-new English-language song, titled ‘Truth Be Told’.

I also have another classical guitar video, this time a rendition of ‘The Good The Bad and The Ugly’ by Ennio Morricone.

Wider World

Being moderately well read on the subject of The Cultural Revolution, the parallels between the woke left and Maoists, self-flagellating, censorious, and with a proclivity for tearing down monuments, are striking.

Online herds and offline mobs are unsettling, no matter how well-intentioned or just the cause. This November’s American election is starting to seem like a choice between which rabbit-hole of bad ideas the Anglosphere will disappear down.