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.


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’.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Beyond the Wings, May 2020

‘TMItastic’ is now available in its entirety as a YouTube playlist.

The initial launch party was scheduled for Easter 2020, the eventual one might not happen until closer to Easter ’21, so I am tentatively working on new material and considering taking a very expensive (but seemingly very good) comedy writing course, to take that next step artistically and professionally.


It’s a douche thing to say considering all the misery that has been caused, but the crisis has had its positive side for those of us who practice solitary artforms. I uploaded my first classical guitar solo in ages, ‘The Magnificent Seven’ theme by Elmer Bernstein:

I finished another light rewrite of my novel, current working title ‘Far from Strangers’, as well as submitting the opening to a competition, the first time I have ever submitted a novel. There is still a lot that needs to be done on it, but I don’t think I can until the Manchester Central Library and other favourite writing locations reopen. This may be an amateur’s excuse, but it’s a true one.


I have another article in ‘LA Review of Books China Channel’, this time a review of a short story collection from the amazing Comma Press. As heartening as it is to get reviews published, I think I prefer reviewing things non-professionally. That way it is not necessary to try to say anything ‘smart’. Recently, I have reviewed an anthology by Orton publishing, a novel by Julian Edge, an album by Robin Mukherjee, and more.

As well as making YouTube videos for several songs from the album, I am also regularly uploading miscellaneous covers, mostly of English-language songs, and also of Mandopop and Spanish.

Wider World

Well, just wow. Relations between the world’s two most powerful countries, which also happen to be two of my favourites, are at their lowest point since before Nixon’s visit. As the excellent Larry Salibra has pointed out, it is dishonest to blame China or the World Health Organization, since countries were given ample warning.

And as always, Trump is taking things to dangerous extremes, including terminating relations with the WHO. In presidential elections, the incumbent almost always wins. George W Bush did despite overseeing poor economic performance and starting two disastrous wars.

There are many reasons why Trump supporters can be confident of a second term. Unlike last time, he has the power of government, and the backing of most of his own party. Also, he has a gaffe-prone opponent who appears to be slurring his speech. But for the love of god, if ever an incumbent needed to be defeated, it is this year.