SHENZHEN ANTICS

Teaching in Shenzhen was insane. Too much partying but what a fantastic staff.

THE SCHOOL

Shen Wai International  School

WELL…The school was a crazy idea from the get go.I used to call it the great Science Experiment. What happens when you take 1500 non English speaking poser, faker, foreign but really 100% Chinese students, with fake foreign passports, and put them in  a purpose based fancy building school with all the bells and whistles, with 300 ex pat teacher from all around the world? What happens? A lot of BS that’s what happens!

My story is this: We went to SEARCH London. Technically it is Kirsten’s fault. We were meant to meet her in London, but by January, she had left. Now we had really left our job prospects to the bitter end.

Of course we should have been at the Bangkok Fair , but the only job that came our way was Shen Wai. I clearly remember Josh ( at TISA) telling me on the bus.

“Go to the Bangkok Fair!”

Literally, we had no job prospects. It was desperate. We should have stayed at TISA where we had a wonderful paying job.Why we left, I will never know. Yes, we got to see ASIA, we worked with a fantastic staff, but Shen Wai was a fricking disaster. I did not want to leave TISA. I did NOT want to leave that wonderful, beautiful apartment.

I would love to go back there.I truly loved Azerbaijan. Anyway, you can’t go “back” you can only go forwards.

We were walking down the aisle at SEARCH London and happened to see our TISA gang.

Then I looked to the right and said…..

“Oh look”, I said to Dave, there’s Matt’s school, Shen Wai. Let’s go speak with them”.

Belinda Holland, the PYP Principal, said ” I’ve been waiting for you two”. Too good to be true.

Back channel

Many great things happened on  that trip :

going to Ronnie Scotts and going to the Brixton site where the David Bowie shrine was: I will never forget that.He had died that week. Oh my, I was so sad. I love David Bowie!!

Belinda hired us. Yes we got to work with Matt Franklin, who we dearly love. We met Heather, Emmet,  Marit, Quintin, Majella, Shane, Kiwi Shane, Jan, Rose,  D-real, Lana, Laois, Emil, Ryan, Ashraf, Aneta, Kylie, Becky, Nick, it just goes on and on….. all those wonderful people. But I still think we should have stayed at TISA!!

 

SHEN WAI:means “foreign” school.

I KNEW it WAS TOO good to be true. Belinda and Ally promised me the PYP Drama co-ordinator position. I just knew it was fake, By March I had found out I was scheduled to teach Pre K /K music and I pushed back saying absolutely NO!

Well I ended up teaching K/1 music, grade 4/5 music theater and yes they gave me the Secondary Choir. Ok it was fine. But it truly was hellish teaching those K/1’s-the fabulous ferrel factory.Those kids were so badly behaved. They couldn’t speak a lick of English and were raised by Aiyes (nannies). The parents couldn’t speak English. It was so effed up.Some characters:William Ding-dong, Ethan T,, Emma somebody: these kids were out of control.

Dave enjoyed teaching grade 5 but it was technically beyond his comfort zone. Yet he survived and was able to use all of his talents in rock band, set building etc.

He showed them all how to run a really good class and the parents adored him as did the kids. Rightly so!

The management was ludicrous beyond all understanding. Once Belinda left, the shit truly hit the fan.

Bradley was just a disaster from the get go. I had many a run -in with him because I simply could not abide his incompetence. His nickname was “ROPES” because he used to gather up all the skipping ropes at lunch.He had no training whatsoever and ran around like a rabid dog most days.

One time this happened: my classes ended at 2:30pm each day. I had arranged a doctor’s appointment in Shekhou at 330pm. It took 45 minutes by METRO to get there from our school. I told the team lead, Emily, Leigh the grade 4/5 music teacher and May, my music assistant, that I was going at 2:40pm. Everyone knew where I was.

I saw “Carmen” in the lift. I said “Oh hi Carmen!”, as I left the building. She immediately texted Bradley:”Charlotte is leaving the building early!”

Bradly came running up to my classroom,  to interrogate May. May, decided , in her Chinese way, to “lie”. She denied knowing where I was. Silly girl! Why didn’t she tell the truth? There was no point in lying-nothing was done wrong!

Then Bradley began interrogating her about “why” she was leaving the school early, like in February.

May became very upset and asked him to stop. He then said “Ok, this conversation never happened”.

Then another time in a meeting Bradley said “Oh sorry to be a douchebag”.He asked Emily to to take down her map which showed Taiwan as a separate country.

I reported him to Daniel. Hmmmm….I wonder how that went.Leigh said “Oh that’s how we talk in Aus or in NZ”. Oh, so that’s supposed to make it professional?No!My goodness that lady was strange.

Another time I had scheduled a separate meeting with Anna, the dingbat PYP replacement for Belinda.  Anna, invited Bradley into the meeting., even though I had specifically told her this was a one-on one meeting-two women, one meeting. End of.

I asked Bradley to leave, saying that I asked for a one-on-one meeting with Anna. I was specifically discussing the ridiculous decision to take away ASA credits away from my musical team. Why on earth would I enter a meeting two-on one?Did they think I was that naive?

The admin, in their dim-witted way, decided that my musical team would only get ONE ASA credit instead of the usual two. Talk about bait/switch. Absolute incompetence.They sprung this on us “after” the musical was completed. Deception,deception,deception.

Bradley looked shocked that I kicked him out of the meeting but honestly, he had no business there. Oh dear, he was such an incompetent child.

Well, then, there’s Daniel. A Canadian

He was a small minded,  no- visioned type leader: so cruel:so misogynistic.

Enough of him. Petty , petty man.

On the surface, when you are dealing with these people day to day you smile, nod, exchange pleasantries, but in actual fact…well, anyway, I’m glad to be away from him. Some people simply do not belong in education.

Ally Wu: what a conniver.  Empress Wu in China:

Empress Wu Zetian Killed Her Children In Order To Become China’s Only Female Ruler

There she is.  Drunk on power. Drunk on handbags. A manipulator of the highest degree.China, in all her glory.

She told the Chinese staff:”You cannot take ANY more sick days!”You must be better than those useless white teachers!” Those westerners are only here to get drunk and have a holiday. Well, she was not wrong there! But oh my, we had a great time.

Ally Wu, the Director of Shen Wai International School. Good Lord. May I never meet another like her, and yet she was a great character- in an espionage novel, she would have her own cocktail bar:Ally Wu nights!

Despite it all, we made great friends and some of the children were a joy to teach.It was an experience I will never forget! But would I got back to Shen Wai?Not in a million years!! I remember Adora,Angel, Arthur, Henry,  David, and his other little sidekick who I absolutely adored but can’t remember his name right now. He had a very sore voice.

Just the cutest little kids ever.There were some really badly behaved ones too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

GUESS WHO IS COMING TO DINNER?

 

 

Now here is a funny story.The year was 1985-I think. AIDS was all in the news but that is a side-bar.

My cousin Owen,   Aunt Alice’s son, was coming to dinner at 1656 Langworthy Street, my house. My Mom had obviously prepared a great dinner and Own said he was bringing a date.That “date” turned out to be “Sean”, a gay, male, black, hairdresser.

Owen and Sean were partners. Holy cannoli, this was a moment. Dad (my Dad) and Sean were “partnered” up in Trivial pursuit. Now you have to know my Dad: yeah he is kind of racist. I mean it is not his fault.

Years ago, when he was 15, his girlfriend was :raped” by a black guy, in Nova Scotia-or so the story goes. So he’s never been fond on the Negro. Ok, whatever.

But that night Dad was very happy with Sean. Sean and him went into Dad’s “gun room” and Dad showed Sean how he made bullets, and “tanned” his own leather, from deer he had shot.

Dad was so pleased that Sean loved his silky leather (and it really was beautiful) that Dad gav ehim a HUGe piece of it.

Sean came out to the diner table, proudly announcing he was gonna make loion cloths (thongs) for all the boys at Wreck Beach, with my Dad’s manly leather.

Cue the Village People:

 

 

Oh my goodness. The irony was delicious. My Dad’s macho leather, parading around Wreck Beach with all the gay boys on display. Fantastic.

Just as it should be!!

Well, in 1987 I was pregnant with Olivia and cousin Owen was dying of AIDS in a Vancouver hospital.Auntie Charlotte went to visit him. I was afraid because I was pregnant. It took my hero, Princess Diana, to break the stigma, and show the world that it was ok to visit an AIDS patient. So that’s my story.

Oskar Schindler’s Grave

WE WERE IN JERUSALEM AT THE TEMPLE.WE WERE WANDERING AROUND……. we saw King David’s tomb, the Dome of the Rock, the Wailing Wall. I put a prayer in the wailing wall for Frances. I guess it worked sort of. She has found someone to help her through it all. His name is Peter.

Anyway we were walking away from the tomb of King David and then found the signs for Oskar Schindler’s grave.There was a Bar Mitzvah planned there. Apparently a lot of Jews come to this site for their children’s Bar Mitzvah-very interesting. I think they said they are held on Thursdays .We looked down the path in the Franciscan Church graveyard and there it was:Oskar Schindler’s grave. I was so happy to have found it. What a story. Image result for oskar schindler's grave and image

As we left the grave site, Maher pulled up, a lone taxi!

“Hello my friend! Where do you want to go?” Don’t worry be happy!

I still laugh at how Dave and I just got in. We instinctively trusted this man. He was great!

There is no  way I would have jumped into his car in 2009.I just didn’t have the international “radar”. Funny though, Nicole, our Jewish, air b and b lady, wasn’t too excited about Maher and his cousin.She had to speak very carefully to him in Arabic, Hebrew, English, French-she drilled him before we got into his cousin’s car the next day.

That’s how we got to Bethlehem.Turns out Maher works for the Russian nuns in the Church where Prince Phillip’s Mother is buried. It’s near the Garden of Gethsemane.

Strange times. I am thrilled to be going back there!!

Prince William being shown Jerusalem by Father Archimandrite Roman, at the Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene, June 28, 2018.

The Day I went to Dealy Plaza, Dallas,Texas

I got off the bus and there it was:Dealy Plaza. I recognized it immediately.The other elementary music teacher I was with was at least 20 years younger than me.She had no idea what we were looking at.This was the assassination site of JFK.I ran to the Grassy Knoll. On the top there were several men selling photographs and other memorabilia.

One guys had some photos that he had taken. I bought a few from him. Another man showed exactly where he thought the bullet had come from. You could see the X on the white picket fence.  You could also see the train tracks behind where a bunch of men had been waiting for the limo to pull left and head down the road  which led to a highway.

I also went into the 6th floor  School book Depository building. You could spend hours in there pouring over all the information and photographs.

What struck me was how “small” the site is at Dealy Plaza. It is a very tiny area, but full of memories. Being there will stick with me a long time.

The Sixth Floor Museum

Image result for Texas school book depository building dallas and image

America is a strange place. I don’t like it there. I enjoy New York, and yes I enjoyed Disneyland and I loved being in Dallas, but I just don’t feel safe anywhere in the USA.

It’s just not for me.

 

THE DAY THE TANKS ROLLED INTO BAHRAIN

“And there’s no feckin’ thing called a Square roundabout”. I remember singing this Irish song in JJ’s. In 2011 the news media had taken to called the Pearl Roundabout “Pearl Square”. They were trying to align “Tahrir Square in Cairo, with Bahrain. Arab revolutions were kicking up all over the place but as people on the ground, we knew it was goin’ nowhere.The so called ARAB SPRING came to a halt mighty quickly.

Image result for image of Tahrir square in Cairo

You can see the pink Cairo museum in the background. Anyway Bahrain thought they’d have a go at this in 2011. Dave managed to get tons of photos right on the ground in the “Pearl Roundabout”. I was way too nervous to go down there.I stayed in the Mall with Meg. There had been rumours of mad Shias running through the Mall threatening people.

Image result for image of the unrest at the Pearl Roundabout in 2011 Bahrain

There she is: the once “Pearl Roundabout”. Well we got home that Thursday evening. The next morning , up in Jubail I called to Dave:

“You better come see this”.The Saudis had rolled in the tanks and destroyed the Pearl Roundabout-mowed down everything in sight. Let this be known: all the bleeding heart liberals in the world needed to take note:while you were  singing Kum by ya, and “calling out” people who don’t agree with the alt left agenda,  the Saudis are rolling across the border taking care of business. They had absolutely no regard for the Bahraini Shias. In fact, a Saudi Sunni would rather deal with me, a Catholic, than a Shia. It’s quite ridiculous. It was then I realized that the rule of law did not and would not EVER apply in Saudi Arabia. Flash forward to 2018 and the horrible murder of Mr Kashoggi.I called that three years ago when I said to Dave:”that poor man, if he doesn’t watch what he says, they will get him and they will kill him”. Didn’t take a genius to call that one. Utterly sad but true.

pearl

That’s what the Saudis did to the Pearl Roundabout. It was a frightening time. They still have never re-built it and I don’t think they ever will.the ruling Sunni minority doesn’t want a symbolic place for the Shia to gather. Yikes. That was about as scary as it got for us overseas, especially when we drove into a “black flag” Shia neighbourhood in Bahrain. Nice enough people, but boy, we did NOT belong there. We turned around pretty quickly.We were trying to find the Rugby Club -we were playing music there, and we definitely took a wrong turn!

Image result for Shia black  flag villages in Bahrain and images

I also remember quite vividly driving into the midst of a MASSIVE Shia uprising in Bahrain. They were shouting “Down with the King”.Mike Gorrie was driving along peacefully saying “I just golfed with him yesterday!” We were chanting “Up with the King!” in the car, just to take the mickey. But honestly, I was bloody nervous.

We kept going, Mike driving very, very slowly through the march. I mean, they could have overturned our vehicle and torched us, but they didn’t. This is what we drove through:

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Image result for Shia marches in Bahrain and images

Well, we survived it! I’d like to go to Bahrain again just to see what’s going on, but maybe I’ll wait for a bit. Those were tense times but boy was it interesting!

 

After much demand I have published the Lyrics for the Square Roundabout and would ask for all left on the island to sing it in unity across the Island at 3 pm this afternoon.

The Square Roundabout (Tune of Wild Rover)

 

I’ve been in the Middle East for many a year,

…And I ‘ve spent on all my money on whiskey & beer,

This week I was shocked when I wandered on out,

For  Sky news told the world of the  square roundabout

 

Chorus

And it’s no, nay, never

Yes  we CAN  hear you shout

Could there be such a notion

Called  a  square  roundabout

 

I went to the city to check it all  out,

There were  thousands of people at the Pearl Roundabout,

You could get cups of tea and popcorn galore

They even had tents for to  sleep on the floor

 

Chorus – And it’s no, nay, never ……

 

Six hundred thousand came out on the streets,

There was Facebook & bloggers & plenty of tweets,

The Sunni’s & Shia’s tried to figure it out,

Could there be such a thing as a square roundabout?

 

Chorus – And it’s no, nay, never ……

 

The word went to Saudi and the good King found out

He decreed he must glance at  this square roundabout

“We’ll  will send in the lads and  we’ll clear them all out

And demolish this thing called a  square roundabout

 

Chorus – And it’s no, nay, never ……

 

Thanks to Sky News, Al Jazeera & the BBC,

They sent pictures worldwide for the whole world to see,

The aerial shots left little to  doubt,

That there’s no f— ing  thing as a square roundabout

 

Chorus

And it’s no, nay, never,

Yes I  CAN hear you shout,

That there’s no f—-  thing

As a square roundabout

 

Zero Dark Thirty in a room full of Saudis

Not sure if I can ever top this one:Dave and I went to Bahrain for our usual Friday: breakfast, massages, shopping and a movie before the session at JJ’s.

We saw “Zero Dark Thirty” and, no kidding, it was me, Dave and an entire theatre of Saudis and Bahrainis. In fact, I think, by the gutras, it was  mainly Saudis and their wives.Just to back up, when we first arrived in Jubail, the signs were everywhere that said “Bin Laden Construction”.The Bin Ladens are a massive family with a huge construction business. If I am not mistaken, the Bin Laden family had the contract to entirely re-build Mecca after some crazy sabotaged it:I think the guy’s name was Angry Face or something like that. Mentalism as per usual.

To the Bahrainis’ chagrin, Friday (formerly Thursday) was the day Saudi “invaded ” Bahrain. It was Saudi Disneyland coming to Bahrain. Coming to a country where normal was, well, normal! You could drive a car, see a film, drink a drink, eat bacon, in essence, normal.And Saudis came by the car-full. That’s where I picked up my “niqaab”-at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Bahrain. Some Saudi woman chucked it on the ground as if to say “I don’t need this sh**” in Bahrain! Quite right! I grabbed it as a souvenir. Of course I did.

So as we are watching this whole thing I’m thinking…..

“Any minute now, one of these bas**rds  will rise out of their seat and shoot us!”.

But they didn’t. Like us, they sat in total silence. They were ashamed of Bin Laden, and so they should be.

He never represented Islam: he was just a thug as were all of his deluded followers. And I am saying this: EVERY Saudi I ever met was kind and wonderful to me. They were polite and gracious. I never, ever, in five years, had a Saudi be rude to me. I know, I know, they were were awe of my blonde hair, my western ways.But I loved them and I miss them.Once I was at Heathrow airport and some British kids were being very, very rude to an old Saudi man, and I immediately went into protection mode, thinking “Hey back off you little punks, these people are my people!” Imagine that eh?

I remember being in Medina, at the airport. Of course I was the only white woman. Naturally I wore hijab to respect Islam. We had a magnificent time at Madain Salah. The desert was in bloom, we met our cousin Ben there. It was magic. The only thing that put me off was the big frickin’ “haram” sign that said we, as Christians could not go into the REAL Medina. I call BS. Seriously, Islam needs to move past that. You can come into the Vatican any time you want, so get over it!

Returning to Medina airport, we met with a beautiful Saudi family. One nephew, age 21 was the chaperone for about 9 women ranging from ages 7-70. The little girl , age 7, said to me “Please, please, take me with you!”

I said :”All of you, your English is wonderful. How did you learn English?

“Madam, we listen to Eminem! Ok, I was not expecting that!”

They were a very polite family. They lived 200km outside of Riyadh. You cannot hate people, when you know their story. I will always remember them.

And I also remember seeing a little boy, age 10, in Jubail, driving the car with his Aunties in the back. Dave wagged his finger at him, telling him to put on his seatbelt. That poor little kid drove on the Jubail highway, which was essentially the “highway to hell”. I still remember seeing that car moving, with no apparent driver-he was too short to see! Insane, totally insane. And the covered up Aunties were letting it happen.That’s what desperation does to you. Now they can drive.

Trump recently called for the “death penalty” to all suicide bombers: yeah, I think they beat you to it Donald!

Back to the film………..

And so that was that. We all filed out silently, knowing that the Yanks did what had to be done. They had to kill that man. Mission accomplished.

Trump recently called for the “death penalty” to all suicide bombers: yeah, I think they beat you to it Donald!