Beyond the Wings, April 2020

With much of the world being under near-house arrest, I am reminded by a quote from Clive James: “Rilke used to say that no poet would mind going to gaol, since he would at least have time to explore the treasure house of his memory. In many respects Rilke was a prick.”

However, despite being deprived of its big night in Salford, the songwriting has had some heartening feedback. This has given me a boost in all creative activities.


As with the rest of the UK, I have had to drastically change my habits. The gym has been replaced by jogging, the cinema by Netflix, and restaurants and bars by Zoom meetings.

I received excellent feedback from The Literary Consultancy on my work-in-progress novel. There is a hell of a long way to go, but I’m still on course to start submitting it by the end of the year.

Tutoring is also ticking along fine. It of course has all moved online. On the subject of helping others along, I am writing music and book reviews for anybody who asks nicely. Here is an example of a review I wrote.


I have started recording a series of miscellaneous covers. I’ve always liked these songs, but it would be breaking character to perform them live, so this has been the perfect time to get them out there. These include ‘Mis-Shapes’ by Pulp, ‘Basket Case’ by Greenday, and ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’ by Guns ‘n’ Roses.

On top of this, I did an interview about my Chinese-language songwriting with John Fleming, who has been described in The Skinny as ‘one of the most influential figures in British comedy’. The write-up for the interview is here, but I think I prefer the unedited audio.

I also received some very kind reviews of TMItastic and had another short story published.

Wider World

Even the most pessimistic predictions for the 2020s being made five months ago (increased climate catastrophe, growing hostility between China and America, another global recession) seem whimsical.

It is particular dishonest to blame China, despite all its social and political problems. Almost all Western governments handled the situation badly in the early stages, particularly the UK and the US, but blame-shifting is everywhere. Increased populism and xenophobic resentment could well be the flavour of  the decade.

John Fleming

I recently did an interview with John Fleming, who has been described in The Skinny as ‘one of the most influential figures in British comedy’. We discussed Chinese-language songwriting, satire, WH Auden, Bjork, Yes Minister, and much more.

The write-up for the interview can be found here and here, but I think I prefer the unedited audio.

Beyond the Wings March 2020

Well, that happened fast. I of course had to cancel my album launch party in April, and it looks highly unlikely that my MBA graduation will happen in June. Many of my favourite activities – including going to the gym, the cinema, the swimming pool, and the pub – will be off for the foreseeable future, but I am trying to keep busy.


Since most of my activities, both paid work and passion projects, are solitary in nature, or can be moved online, I should be able to ride out this crisis as well as most people. I am still teaching online, Mandarin, the guitar, creative writing, and essay writing.

I am also set to get a short story published this week and have been working on some new music videos. I received a 19-page report on my novel, working title ‘In a Lonely Hour’, and have started addressing the many critiques.


Both of my albums have now been released. The English album ‘TMItastic’ is available on all major online platforms, and also on CD if you message me directly. Here is the trailer:

The Chinese-language album 《失败博物馆》 ‘Museum of Failure’  will soon be available online. Here is a trailer for it:

My chances of making money off them have all but evaporated due to the virus, but the early feedback has been heartening. Hopefully there will be more online evidence of this over the coming month.

Wider World

I was seventeen when 9/11 happened, and twenty-four when the Global Financial Crisis toppled the economic superiority of the West, but this is the first time I have been so directly affected by an international upheaval.

The virus originated in China, but that country appears to be over the worst of it while Europe and North America could be six months away from starting to revive their industry. During the inevitable recession, I may consider returning to East Asia to ride out the lean years.

Beyond the Wings, February 2020

After months of false starts and messing around, The Kev’s English-language album ‘TMItastic’ and Chinese-language album 《失败博物馆》should be available by the middle of March, ahead of the launch party on April 18th.


This month I have continued teaching Mandarin, and now have four regular clients. I have also learned my first Spanish-language song and may put the effort online at some point.

In writing, I have had another piece published in LA Review of Books China Channel. I have given the novel a rest for the past three weeks pending another beta reading; however, I have had an acceptance letter for ‘Kobe Bryant and the Freedom Swimmer’, a short story that I started working on in 2015, which is very encouraging.

Screenshot 2020-02-24 at 15.42.15


I have completed some last-minute additions to TMItastic. One of the songs, “Childhood”, had B-side written all over it, so I replaced it with this one

Then I decided “Catholic Love” was not quite right, so I replaced it with this one, about how technology has improved millions of lives in a way that is not often talked about.

Wider World

Bernie Sanders is now clear favourite to be the Democratic nominee to oppose Donald Trump in November. He would be the oldest ever president by some distance and his policies imply massive tax increases, but it is not completely impossible that he will win.

As the Economist has pointed out, if the election is simply a referendum on President Trump, then he will be very vulnerable. However, all of the Democratic contenders have major flaws, Buttigieg is too green, Klobuchar lacks national name recognition, Bloomberg is too compromised, Warren – probably the most viable – is too left wing in most people’s eyes, and Biden is barely medically alive.

One of the possible knock-on effects of the Coronavirus is a recession, which could cause the incumbent problems at the ballot box. Only a fool would predict anything too confidently.