Beyond the Wings, January 2022

Having completed Dry January, I got a lot done this month both creatively and professionally. This year I am also going to give up drinking for Lent and Sober October, and maybe in 2023 it will be OYNB (one year no beer).


To boost business, I have started offering free online Mandarin lessons at least once a month. At the moment, one of the lessons is for absolute beginners and another is in intermediate reading.

I am also hosting various events related to both language and music. Six months’ worth of China Book Clubs have already been scheduled. The next is Little Gods’ by Meng Jin.


When it comes to future albums or gigs, a song is either a show-stopper or not worth including. This month I finished two English songs – one about a lover with a heroic flaw and a mock pop anthem – but will probably rework them later as they are both in the demo stage.

I have also finished a new classical guitar video:

Wider World

The world is watching nervously at the prospect of Russia invading Ukraine. That is, the democratic world. China is less afraid. Although not technically allies, Russia and China have increased military cooperation in recent years. A war in Europe could empower China to take Taiwan while the West is distracted, as the nationalistic blogger Huashan Qiong Jian has said.

Alexander Gabuev, a China expert at the Carnegie Moscow Center think-tank, has said: “If war happens, it will be a huge distraction for the US. For China, that would be an opportunity of the same magnitude as 2014.”

As the recent Peng Shuai episode has shown, the Chinese Communist Party is as autocratic, thuggish, and opaque as it ever was. There are a million things wrong with the West, but when I compare the two, I am reminded of a quote from Clive James, ‘Democracy is even more important for what it prevents than for what it provides.’

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