Beyond the Wings February 2021

This month, two of the biggest moments of my creative life happened within a few days of each other. On February 6th, I held a Zoom concert to showcase my Chinese-language song-writing. Also, my first book was released.

Output

‘The Naked Wedding’, my first short story collection, is now available as an e-book and in print. I have started soliciting reviews but have heard nothing back yet. Reviews are a hard sell; they take a lot of time and tend to pay zilch. I still hope and expect that some will have materialised by the end of the year.

Also, this month I held a Zoom concert that was a risky mixing of professional life and personal passion project.

Hopefully, this will inspire new Chinese songs, an artform on which I have been quite unproductive recently. The English songs however seem to keep flowing out. This was an attempt at a romantic salsa song written for Valentine’s weekend.

Activities

The Mandarin Club continues to thrive. As well as the Zoom concert, this month there were two literary events with well-known Chinese authors, and the February edition of the China Book Club was ‘Factory Girls’ by Leslie Chang. In March it will be the post-reform & opening masterpiece ‘Life’ by Lu Yao.

Another regular Zoom event I host is the Castle Music Group, a music, poetry and comedy group open to everyone. The March events will be on the afternoon of the 14th and the evenings of the 20th and 31st. This helps to fuel my weekly recordings of miscellaneous covers.

In February these have included ‘The Best’ by Tina Turner, ‘Motion Picture Soundtrack’ by Radiohead, ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ by Bon Jovi, and ‘Radio Ga Ga’ by Queen.

Wider World

As relieving as it is to be rid of President Trump, the honeymoon is already over with Biden. In late February he launched military air strikes in Syria, continuing a decades-long trend of American military intervention in the region.

Trump’s obnoxiousness was often a distraction from the genuine intractability of the problems facing the world. Here in the UK, there is genuine optimism that life will return to something resembling pre-coronavirus normalcy by the end of 2021. Still, the social and economic fallout has yet to be understood.

With the Conservative Party, whose disastrous governance has led the UK to a world-leading death toll and the worst recession in three centuries, leading in the polls, I am reminded of this poem by Erich Fried.

What Happens

It has happened

and it goes on happening

and will happen again

if nothing happens to stop it.

The innocent know nothing

because they are too innocent

and the guilty know nothing

because they are too guilty.

The poor don’t take notice

because they’re too poor

and the rich don’t take notice

because they’re too rich.

The stupid shrug their shoulders

because they’re too stupid

and the clever shrug their shoulders

because they’re too clever.

The young don’t care

because they’re too young

and the old don’t care

because they’re too old.

That’s why nothing happens

to stop it

and that is why it has happened

and goes on happening and will happen again.

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