Wade Schroeder

One of the biggest sacrifices of the expatriate’s life is the perishability of the friendships we make. Attempts to maintain contact with those we once lived and worked closely with often fall victim to geographical distance and changes in lifestyle.

One person who I had not met for six and a half years but left a deep impression on everyone who knew him was Wade Schroeder – a South African former water polo player known throughout our place of work as a gentle giant. After arriving in Huizhou, Guangdong Province in 2006 to work to work as a language tutor at Thames School of Languages, the following year he became the school’s sole full-time kindergarten teacher.Wade

Wade had a laugh like Mozart in ‘Amadeus’, would do anything for anyone, and was the only long-term China expat I met who responded to every shout of “hello” from a stranger with a broad smile and a like-for-like response (in Huizhou at that time, friendly attention directed at foreigners was as oppressive as paparazzi).

While the 23 other expatriate teachers who taught primary and middle school-aged children had the linguistic safety net of a teaching assistant and the cultural safety net of each other’s company, Wade was getting an entirely grassroots-level experience of China. Despite being in a very different world from his native Port Elizabeth, there was no danger of Wade saying or doing anything insensitive or inappropriate as he would never wantonly hurt anyone.

He had slightly old-fashioned ideas about being a perfect gentleman, holding doors open and letting people get off the elevator first, regardless of how unlikely his courtesy was to be reciprocated.

Wade had a different schedule to the other expatriate teachers, but whether you wanted a wild night in a noisy bar or to sit on the balcony talking about life the universe and everything, Wade was among everybody’s favourite people to spend time with. His death, aged 31, inspired people across continents and time zones to pay their  respects.

My favourite memory of Wade (among many) involved a prank that woke him up in the small hours of the morning. He had to be up at six for work the next day, but as he sat alone at breakfast, instead of being angry, as was his right, he could only sit laughing to himself in that inimitable way.

The children who were our students are now teenagers, and the teenagers are now adults, and our colleagues have scattered around the world. But the memories are still with us, and what memories, and what a man.

Beyond the Wings December 2019

This is a slightly late edition of Beyond the Wings, the last month of the 2010s, the decade of smart phones and social media, and when the world went from Obama to Trump. Still, it was a considerable improvement on the 1910s.


As always, December was a month of festivities that aim to distract from the terrible weather. At a wedding weekend in Ireland I gave a brief performance that inspired new songs, and sets me up further for the album launch in Manchester on April 18th.

I also reached the halfway point of my Comma Press short story course and finished the third draft of my novel (working title ‘The Watcher’). New Years’ Resolutions are:

  1. Release at least two albums
  2. Get novel up to submittable standard
  3. Get fit enough to bench press own weight
  4. Reach a higher level in conversational Spanish


I sent my Chinese-language album 《失败博物馆》off to be printed. The English album should be finished by the end of February. Recently finished songs include a song about love:

And a song about avoiding having inappropriate thoughts about friends’ wives:

Wider World

As expected, the Labour party fell to a defeat in the UK general election. This means that in the early 2020s, Brexit will happen. It will be bad but not catastrophic. Also, Trump was impeached, but he is still expected to survive his senate trial and the favourite to win the November election.

Here are some of my highlights of the 2010s:

Books:  Fiction 1. The Incarnations by Susan Barker 2. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng 3. Spoiled Brats by Simon Rich

Non-fiction 1. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari 2. The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman 3. Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Movies: 1. The Irishman 2. Twelve Years a Slave 3. Inside Llewyn Davies



Beyond the Wings November 2019

It is almost the end of the decade and people are reflecting on how their own world and the wider world has changed over this time. I happen to have been thinking a lot about what life was like a decade ago because a colleague of mine from that time died in November.

My biggest concern at the time was balancing paid work with passion projects. It still is.


Teaching Mandarin and creative writing over the Tutorful website is coming along nicely. You can sign up with me here for lessons in Mandarin, the guitar, essay writing, creative writing, and more.

I have also started working again on the novel (working title The Watcher), having had another round of professional feedback, this time from Fish Publishing. It is a millennia-spanning epistolary whodunit that has just passed the 40,000-word mark.


Ahead of a double album launch at The Lion’s Den in Manchester on April 18, 2020, I am writing and recording both English songs and Chinese songs that will make the final cut. Among the newly recorded Chinese songs is this one:

Wider World

This month, the UK is in the middle of an election campaign. At the time of writing, the Conservative Party is leading the polls, despite the unpopularity of their approach to Brexit. I will be voting Labour (without much enthusiasm) in a key marginal.

If elected, they will hold a second referendum (which I hope will avert Brexit), and massively increase public spending, which could help save the National Health Service and tackle my pet issue, homelessness.

Beyond the Wings October 2019

This  month has involved making baby-steps toward monetising some passion projects and big steps toward getting established professionally.  I also finished the second draft of a novel and will return to it  in November.


I have started teaching Mandarin on a freelance basis. I am available to teach anywhere in Greater Manchester or online. More details can be found here.

I have also been translating  for a Russian gaming company and, once more bureaucratic hoops have been jumped through, can hopefully start interpreting on a freelance basis soon. Lastly, I have written a stand-up comedy set that I will  unleash in a live performance in November.


Much of my music is now available for purchase on Bandcamp. This  month,  I re-recorded some Chinese-language songs that  I have particular affection for:

I also self-published a short story on Kindle that wasn’t quite right for any publication. It has already been well-reviewed.

Wider World

Within 24 hours of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi being killed, Donald Trump was booed at the World Series. There are myriad reasons for  booing Donald Trump but this was not the time to do it, and only serves to make his opponents look irrational and boosts his chances at reelection.

The impeachment is building up steam, but just as important is what will happen afterwards. Democratic candidate Tulsi Gabbard is one of the few to have taken a principled and sensible position on opposing radical Islamism, but her chances of being accepted by the establishment seem slim.

新歌《有一天》 New Song: One Fine Day

A new song recording

If you don’t understand it you can run the lyrics through Google Translate.

你可真是个 优秀的人