Beyond the Wings, October 2021

This month, a loyal pupil has moved on, so it has been time to get out of my comfort zone and start marketing. At the same time, I have been writing more prose, recording new music, and preparing for the November 13th launch night.

Activities

To boost my tutoring business, I have designed and printed business cards. Distributing them – at libraries, on campuses, and other places – has been time-consuming but surprisingly easy.

Sometimes, I feel I’m neglecting prose writing, both fiction and non-fiction. But this month I completed a new review for the Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing, and am set to start another burst of activity on the novel ‘Fallen Souls’.

Output

I learned how to play one of my all-time favourite piano concertos on the classical guitar.

Also, as a songwriter, I am going through a Jim Steinman phase. That is, the new songs I am writing will have radical shifts in tempo, genre and tone. The latest starts as a song about shyness, but somehow ends up being about why I think humanity will survive the next couple of centuries.

Wider World

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference is set to take place in Scotland from October 31st to November 12th. Predictably, the great and the good will be flying from all around the world to discuss the destructiveness of air travel and other commonplace activities.

Insulate Britain campaigner Tracey Mallaghan appeared on television to assert that it was not appropriate to be flying to space in rockets while the world is ‘burning’. This came shortly after actor and author William Shatner became the oldest ever astronaut.

The future of space travel is no vanity project.

China has just launched its 40th orbital rocket mission this year, a record. The great discoveries of land and sea have led to competition and (usually violent) power struggles between nation states. In space, there is much to compete for.

The moon and countless meteorites are thought to contain untapped minerals such as titanium and precious metals. Asteroid 3554 Amun is said to contain nickel, cobalt, iron and other resources worth approximately US$20 trillion, about the same as America’s gross domestic product.

Governments have often worked with commercial ventures in securing resources. The British East India Company is an infamous example of almost acting as a governing body at a time of colonial plunder.

American companies, particularly Elon Musk’s SpaceX, followed by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin are currently leading the way. As climate change is showing us, there is much incentive for the whole world to work together to make life on earth more sustainable, but the lessons from history show that agreements between nations need to be comprehensively binding and honoured to prevent destructive one-upmanship.

Beyond the Wings, September 2021 

‘Abusive X’ is now available on all major platforms. The initial launch night is set for November 13th at the Lion’s Den, Manchester.

Activities

Tutoring is continuing to go great. My pupils for both Chinese and English are making pleasing progress.

On the subject of Chinese, this month’s China Book Club was ‘Broken Wings’ by Jia Pingwa. Upcoming ones will include China Dream’ by Ma Jian, and Out of Mao’s Shadow by Philip Pan.

With some pupils moving on recently, I hope to get more tutoring business going forward, especially in essay writing and music.

Output

My classical guitar will go unused for a few days as the new set of strings settles, the last outing for the old strings was a recording of ‘Hommage à Tarrega’, an exciting and technically challenging piece by Joaquin Turina.

I also revived my weekly miscellaneous covers. Though still somewhat creatively drained after finishing ‘Abusive X’, I hope to finish some new original songs in October.

Wider World

Of the two political earthquakes of 2016, Brexit always seemed more consequential than the election of Donald Trump. Trump may be the most talked about person of the past half decade, but there is no reason to believe his presidency will be considered a particularly memorable one in decades to come.

Despite his disastrous handling of Covid, attempted coup, and two impeachments, he is already considered by many to be a thing of the past. Meanwhile, Brexit is only just beginning to be a reality.

Manifestations currently include depleted shelves and a shortage of heavy goods vehicle drivers. Lots of people have a lot to say about this, some very amusingly.