Beyond the Wings December 2019

This is a slightly late edition of Beyond the Wings, the last month of the 2010s, the decade of smart phones and social media, and when the world went from Obama to Trump. Still, it was a considerable improvement on the 1910s.


As always, December was a month of festivities that aim to distract from the terrible weather. At a wedding weekend in Ireland I gave a brief performance that inspired new songs, and sets me up further for the album launch in Manchester on April 18th.

I also reached the halfway point of my Comma Press short story course and finished the third draft of my novel (working title ‘The Watcher’). New Years’ Resolutions are:

  1. Release at least two albums
  2. Get novel up to submittable standard
  3. Get fit enough to bench press own weight
  4. Reach a higher level in conversational Spanish


I sent my Chinese-language album 《失败博物馆》off to be printed. The English album should be finished by the end of February. Recently finished songs include a song about love:

And a song about avoiding having inappropriate thoughts about friends’ wives:

Wider World

As expected, the Labour party fell to a defeat in the UK general election. This means that in the early 2020s, Brexit will happen. It will be bad but not catastrophic. Also, Trump was impeached, but he is still expected to survive his senate trial and the favourite to win the November election.

Here are some of my highlights of the 2010s:

Books:  Fiction 1. The Incarnations by Susan Barker 2. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng 3. Spoiled Brats by Simon Rich

Non-fiction 1. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari 2. The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman 3. Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Movies: 1. The Irishman 2. Twelve Years a Slave 3. Inside Llewyn Davies



Beyond the Wings November 2019

It is almost the end of the decade and people are reflecting on how their own world and the wider world has changed over this time. I happen to have been thinking a lot about what life was like a decade ago because a colleague of mine from that time died in November.

My biggest concern at the time was balancing paid work with passion projects. It still is.


Teaching Mandarin and creative writing over the Tutorful website is coming along nicely. You can sign up with me here for lessons in Mandarin, the guitar, essay writing, creative writing, and more.

I have also started working again on the novel (working title The Watcher), having had another round of professional feedback, this time from Fish Publishing. It is a millennia-spanning epistolary whodunit that has just passed the 40,000-word mark.


Ahead of a double album launch at The Lion’s Den in Manchester on April 18, 2020, I am writing and recording both English songs and Chinese songs that will make the final cut. Among the newly recorded Chinese songs is this one:

Wider World

This month, the UK is in the middle of an election campaign. At the time of writing, the Conservative Party is leading the polls, despite the unpopularity of their approach to Brexit. I will be voting Labour (without much enthusiasm) in a key marginal.

If elected, they will hold a second referendum (which I hope will avert Brexit), and massively increase public spending, which could help save the National Health Service and tackle my pet issue, homelessness.

Beyond the Wings October 2019

This  month has involved making baby-steps toward monetising some passion projects and big steps toward getting established professionally.  I also finished the second draft of a novel and will return to it  in November.


I have started teaching Mandarin on a freelance basis. I am available to teach anywhere in Greater Manchester or online. More details can be found here.

I have also been translating  for a Russian gaming company and, once more bureaucratic hoops have been jumped through, can hopefully start interpreting on a freelance basis soon. Lastly, I have written a stand-up comedy set that I will  unleash in a live performance in November.


Much of my music is now available for purchase on Bandcamp. This  month,  I re-recorded some Chinese-language songs that  I have particular affection for:

I also self-published a short story on Kindle that wasn’t quite right for any publication. It has already been well-reviewed.

Wider World

Within 24 hours of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi being killed, Donald Trump was booed at the World Series. There are myriad reasons for  booing Donald Trump but this was not the time to do it, and only serves to make his opponents look irrational and boosts his chances at reelection.

The impeachment is building up steam, but just as important is what will happen afterwards. Democratic candidate Tulsi Gabbard is one of the few to have taken a principled and sensible position on opposing radical Islamism, but her chances of being accepted by the establishment seem slim.

新歌《有一天》 New Song: One Fine Day

A new song recording

If you don’t understand it you can run the lyrics through Google Translate.

你可真是个 优秀的人





Beyond the Wings September 2019

This has been a month of endings and beginnings.


This month I left Beetham Tower, whose north-facing view provided the backdrop to over a year’s worth of music videos. I have moved to a place where it seems to be easier to get silence for recording.

Other big things to have come to and this month include my. MBA. I defended the thesis successfully in Barcelona on September 23rd. I also finished the first draft of a novel (working title “The Watcher”) and began the second draft largely based on the excellent professional feedback from The Darling Axe.

Screenshot 2019-09-30 at 14.07.28


The last recording in front of the Manchester skyline was a guitar adaptation of “The Humming Chorus” from Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly”.

I also intend to revive my use of Soundcloud to promote my music. I re-recorded a song I wrote in 2012 titled “TV Talent Shows”.

And I recorded a song I have often played at open mic nights.

Wider World

An impeachment of Donald Trump is now a real possibility but there is a long and rocky road to making it happen, or even denying him a second term. To quote Bill Maher, Republicans are the party of rednecks, but Democrats are the party of blueballs, so it would be foolish to get one’s hopes up.

As Greta Thunberg has so memorably pointed out, Trump and Brexit are only a small part of the reason why the future is so scary.

Beyond the Wings August 2019

This month I have written and recorded more new music than at any time since 2013. I have also completed my MBA thesis, which leaves just one more hoop to jump through until the thing is finished and all that’s needed is to figure out what to do with my life. 


This will hopefully be the last month of being underemployed, having now submitted my thesis, pending a defence in Barcelona in a month or so.

Screenshot 2019-08-30 at 20.19.41

I have also been frequenting open mic nights, with a view toward a double-LP launch, one of Chinese-language songs and the other of English ones. A full-time job will slow down the process, but only slightly.

In the past month, I have done nothing with prose fiction, but this precedes a massive rush in which I will complete a second draft of my novel, and begin a six-month short story-writing course.


New English-language MVs include “One Question”, a song about God:

New Chinese ones include “Sick Man of Europe”, which is about English teachers in China

And a re-recording of “Migrant Workers”, a song about the unsung heroes of China’s economic miracle.

Wider World

This month has seen the United Nations’ biodiversity chief Cristiana Paşca Palmer state that countries need to get together fast to protect the world’s forests and ecosystems and the road on which I live has been closed by Extinction Rebellion protests. The chances of the world working together do not look good since the unelected British prime minister has called on the monarch to prorogue parliament to push through an act of xenophobic self-destruction, and Donald Trump has displayed behaviour even more insane than during the 2016 election campaign.

All the frivolous activities mentioned above might well be described as fiddling while the world burns. Yet our aggressive, territorial species has been causing mass extinctions since we were walking upright, and we have tended to muddle through. Or at least the more fortunate among us have.