Beyond the Wings, October 2022

Having done Dryanuary, Lent, and now Sober October, this has been the least boozy year of my adult life. In 2023, I intend to take the next step, and go One Year No Beer. On New Year’s Eve, this will be me.

Speaking of things that I will miss, I am set to release my final Chinese-language album soon. In February, I will hold an online performance that will celebrate my Chinese songwriting career (or lack thereof).


The last Chinese song I ever plan to write is about the country’s tendency to throw high-profile people in jail for things that are easy mistakes to make. It comes full circle and reflects on how – though it was once what I wanted – I never become nationally famous for my songwriting, and that this is probably for the best:

This month’s miscellaneous covers were a medley of songs that I played on the big night at Manchester Academy 3. That particular part of the gig doesn’t seem to have been captured on camera, so I did it all again at home:

This month’s Substack is on the subject of humour.


On Mondays on Fridays I am in Bury in North Manchester teaching guitar to teenagers. And on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I am in Withington in South Manchester teaching English Literature to a successful businessman.

I have always taken for granted that I would have to draw a firm line between paid work and personal passion projects, but these gigs involve music and creative writing respectively, which is heartening.

Wider World

When I reached voting age in the 2000s, the leading figures on the world stage included George W Bush, Silvio Berlusconi, and …well… Vladimir Putin. And people were saying, not without justification, that we were entering the post-democratic age.

Remembrance Sunday is almost upon us and soon wearing poppies will be unofficially mandatory. I have always thought that the most disrespectful way to treat the memory of World War 1 soldiers is to pretend that pointless wars started by idiot politicians are a thing of the past.

Xi Jinping has just secured another five years at the helm in China, and the smart money is on him invading Taiwan this decade. I couldn’t help thinking about this along with Putin ramping things up in Eastern Europe while watching the new adaptation of ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ (I still prefer the 1930 version, see below). It makes me more convinced of the tastelessness of turning this waste of human life into a fashion appendage.

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