Wednesday, 26 December 2007

It's only words...

It's THAT time of year to review what's gone well in the past 12 months and plan ahead for a happy, peaceful, successful etc etc new year. About 5 years ago I kicked the habit of making resolutions into touch. I realised that, for me, making vague promises that would never be kept was a fairly pointless exercise, and one that usually ended up with me feeling bad, guilty or useless. These are not feelings I want to have about myself.

So - I devised a new scheme. Review the past 12 months. Work out what's gone well, then distill that down into one word that encapsulates what it was that made it good. Then carry that word forwards into the next year as your personal mantra, and try to keep it at the centre of how you approach life.

As examples, I've had, in previous years, words like "honest", "me" and "balance", which have all been useful to focus on. Last year's word was "relationships" - a reminder to invest only in those which are good for me, and to take my energy away from those that are destructive. Very helpful it's been too. Mind you, you do have to be careful when choosing your word. It has to be something that you have a fighting chance of being able to influence. My good friend, C, introduced to the word concept, embraced it enthusiastically but then saddled himself with 'blow jobs' as his word(s). Not only is this difficult to bring ethically into all areas of one's life, you also risk being sadly disappointed if it doesn't come to fruition (as it were). Still, he is now happily loved up, so you've got to hope that, belatedly, his word has panned out OK.

My word for 2008 came to me, appropriately, in a yoga class. It's stability. In life, in work and in holding eagle poses.

2008 is going to be a great year. Have a good one x

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Everyone's a winner, baby... that's the truth....

And now (drum roll) for the inaugural GP Christmas Quiz! In the best traditions of end of year festivities, for your enjoyment and entertainment, a short review of GP's year. Naturally there are prizes - answers on a comment please and GP will award and divvy up the spoils in the New Year*.

* All gifts to be collected in HK. In the event of a tie, GPs judgment shall be final. And confidential. And not necessarily consistent, as, dammit, this is my Christmas Quiz so my rules, OK??

So let's begin....

1. Geography

What are GPs most and least favourite destinations of this year? Chose from:

Business: Singapore, Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, London, KL, Bangkok, Zu Hai
Play: Nisseko, Seoul, Palau, Guam, London, Tokyo, Phuket

Calculate the co2 involved in this crazy amount of travel!
Name GPs favourite airline seat (clue - links to q2 below)...

2. Personal and Social Education

E the W, P the P and J the P. All have featured in GP's personal life this year.

a) name those people
b) provide those stories

Which of these people is GP most likely to see in 2008 a) through choice and b) through unfortunately running into them in HK?

3. Mathematics

GP visited Macau and burned through a few thousand dollars cash at 3 separate casinos.

a) What are the odds of that happening?
b) How likely is GP to do this again i) this year, ii) in the first half of next year and iii) keeping to her word and making it an
annual thing only?
c) During her trip, GP consumed 3 "free" diet cokes and 2 "free" coffees. What is the net profit GP poured straight into the
coffers of Messrs Wynne, MGM and Venetian?

4. English

GP is well known within the business for being a grammatical pedant. Is her particular bugbear:

a) apostrophe misuse
b) subject/verb agreement
c) gerunds
d) all of the above, and she'd better get a grip on herself before she gets a reputation for this.....

5. Music

Name all the songs that the titles of my posts come from, with artists. In the event of a song being performed by more than one artist, name the artist that GP prefers, with reasons. Karaoke renditions of songs, performed for GP, bring additional bonus points.

6. PE

Get down and GIMME 5!

7. Media Studies

Which of these is GP a regular subscriber to:

Guardian Online, The Straits Times, The Week, Vanity Fair, Amnesty International, Heat

Which of these has GP finally broken her addiction to in 2007?

8. Languages

What progress has GP made with her Cantonese this year? Can she now:

a) competently direct a cab to a new location
b) order off menu in a Cantonese private kitchen
c) discuss the merits and demerits of universal suffrage for HK
d) all of the above
e) none of the above?

9. Arts

Slightly thin category this year due to over performance in other areas. However.. The highlight of GPs artistic year was:

a) 1984 at the APA - great show, worrying portent of totalitarian nation states we are descending towards, Orwell had it right
all along...
b) There's something about Mary on the outdoor screen at Cyberport. I know it's crass, I know it's tasteless, but the scene
with the dog high as a kite attacking Ben Stiller is one of the finest slapstick moments on film
c) Aliens on the plane home from Guam... Finally I get to know where all the quotes come from... Keep it tight people
d) Korean language version of A Midsummer Night's Dream at City Hall. Oh you cynics, you don't know what you missed...

10. Chemistry

GP is well known for being a climate worrier and prone to excessive interest and concern about environmental issues. How much hot air does she produce on this subject? What is the net effect on your environment during this atmospheric phenomenon?


The absolute highlight of GPs year was:

a) final departure of odious work colleague
b) traveling to Guam and Palau with great friends
c) the entire long, hot summer.....
d) the lane crawford sale - shoe section

Merry Christmas and a very peaceful and happy 2008 xx

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

we'll always be together...however far it seems!

songs follow me around.

yesterday i was travelling from plush KL hotel to the airport, singing along to 80s and 90s classics, whilst also fielding texts arranging a social life in HK. One of these was Phil Oakley's collaboration with Giorgio Moroder, "Together in Electric Dreams'. It is a perfect piece of pop nonsense.

Today I heard the same song again, whilst going through the ritual of seeing a fantastic friend, S, off from HK. Suddenly the trite lyrics seemed all the more meaningful. Mind you, I often have the same sensation listening to ABBA after a particularly nasty breakup. There's depth in that simplicity (or something..)

Still, the notion that "We'll always be together, however far it seems..." seemed comforting as she embarks on a world wide, year plus long trip and the reappearance of L after a long absence proves the truth of these otherwise trite lyrics.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Have you read the news today, oh boy....

Unofficially I have been exhaustively in search of the worst media available in Asia. I think I may have found a "winner".

Yes, the South China Morning Post is hopelessly parochial, short on decisive commentary and long on fashion. The Straits Times is, well, pleasant, but hardly what you would consider "news" in any conventional sense of the word. The China Daily is an unashamedly biased and slick PR campaign - the journalists surely can't take the crud in there seriously, and therefore neither should we.

No - the outsider, a late entrant, but truly extraordinary for its lack of perspective, sheer poor quality of journalism and dull, dull, dull-ness is (tah dah!!!!) The New Straits Times (henceforth The Dire Straits Times). Yes - available for free in any Malaysian hotel or on line at .

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Another suitcase in another hall

This should be the time of year to gently slow down as Christmas approaches, write Christmas cards, see friends and family and generally reflect on another year gone.

Sadly this year this plan will only be partly achieved. The seeing friends bit is, predictably, ticking along nicely. In fact, a little too enthusiastically perhaps. Friday night went from a quiet night in, through a lovely dinner out with a very good friend, perhaps unwisely to crashing another good friend's Christmas party and then simply inexplicably to Insomnia, where we drank more (as we really needed to by then) and shook our collective booty to cover versions of rock classics cranked out by a Filipino cover band. A quintessential HK experience that, like Christmas, really should come but once a year.

Work wise, something has gone seriously wrong. Tomorrow I fly to KL for a day. This is wrong on so many levels that they aren't worth counting. At the moment the one that's top of my list is that any allure that business travel once had has simply gone. It's dull, stressful and tiring, as well as being climatically disastrous, and I don't care how nice they make the lounges, it's not worth it.

I was remembering fondly today my first business trip, which I got seriously over excited about. Somewhat embarrassingly, with hindsight, it was a trip from London to Edinburgh. I got to travel business class and stay in what i thought was going to be a nice hotel. How wrong I was. I began to realise how unglamorous work travel was shortly after checking in. the hotel was in a grotty part of town, conveniently located next to the bus station. The rooms were cramped, chintzy and smelt of smoke. The other guests seemed to be mainly American tourists.

This in itself wasn't great. However, the final nail in the coffin was when a piper, complete with full Highland regalia, fired up right underneath my window. He proceeded to blast out Highland toons, about a tone flat, for the next hour. Simply dreadful. I later found out that the woman in charge of booking the trips was receiving kick backs from the hotel management for putting us all up there, and was duly sacked.

The KL trip will be a marked improvement on that, with a fighting chance of an upgrade and the hotel will certainly be better. But, bah humbug, NOT the way to relax into the festive season.....

Friday, 7 December 2007

Everybody hurts...sometimes.....

The Guardian has a series where individuals write in asking for advice - it's called Private Lives and it's quite revealing. This week a woman asked for advice for how to get her parents to be more empathic towards her sister who is suffering from rapidily advancing Multiple Sclerosis. My view below.

"I empathise with this very difficult situation. However, I’m not sure that the advice I’m going to give you will be the answer that you are looking for.

I write as the 37 year old sister of a 30 year old brother with autism and behavioural problems. As is common to many people with autism, my brother requires full time support carefully co-ordinated between social and health services.

My parents are in a state of denial about the on-going issues associated with his care, and seem to be waiting for him to “get better”. Their fantasy about this happening effectively prevents them from dealing with the many and varied here and now issues he and they face. My fantasy about my parents suddenly developing the skills to care for him as I believe he needs is driving a wedge between them and me.

My advice, therefore, is to accept the level of care and support that your parents are able to give and not to expect them to be something they are not. If you have said your piece, and called it as you see it, then let it rest. Labouring the point further is exhausting for you, unlikely to change them and ultimately unhelpful to your sister (who, after all, is the one in this piece whose needs should be paramount). Concentrate on the help that you can give, lean into friends and family for support and connect with MS support groups who will be able to give you practical and emotional support at this difficult time.

Good luck. If, of course, I’m wrong then please let me know! I would love for there to be a different answer, but having been around this particular loop more times than I can remember over the past 10 years, I’m not sure there is. Dealing with a disability within a family is a source of on-going grief and loss for what could have been. Sadly this also includes letting go of your idealised version of your parents too."

Monday, 3 December 2007

There was a parking lot - now there's a peaceful got it, you got it...

One of the things I'm passionate about is sustainabilty.

This in part stems from a childhood largely spent being far too serious and pompous for my own good. Whilst other girls were reading Patches and Jackie, I'd be hoovering up New Internationalist, Amnesty International and debating the merits of Fairtrade. For ethical reasons I've been vegetarian more times than I can remember, for reasons of greed and cravings for bacon I've lapsed exactly the same number of times. When the rest of my peer group were enjoying the first Live Aid concert as a great free show, I was arguing with my parents that if they were really serious about ending gloabl poverty, then instead of donating some cash they would bloody well sell the house and make a serious statement of intent.....

Fortunately for all concerned, I've mellowed significantly in older age, and am now enjoying, with bells on, being far less earnest and serious than the up tight adolsecent I once was.

However, one thing that remains an absolute passion for me is caring for the environment in which we live, and treating it with respect and care such that we can continue to live with it. I don't have kids yet, but one of the scenarios I dread is having to explain to some indignant child a couple of decades hence why there's permanent shortages of clean water, no trees and all the food we eat is GM by necessity. And that's not to mention the lack of coral, the reduction in diversity, the permanent damage to our weather systems, the melting ice caps......

The thing that really gets my goat is that all the science, and much of the technology to do something about it, has been known about for decades. Back in the eighties, my inspirational chemistry teacher, Geoff Herbert, laid out in very stark detail exactly what we were doing to the planet. He was right too. Strikes me that if one A level teacher in Stockport understood what was going on, then so do the powers that be, which makes our collective failings to act all the more shameful.

Still, this is now veering dangerously towards an auto-rant. And, in an act that neatly demonstrates the problem, I'm just about to board a flight to Shanghai. But this is only a temporary state of affairs, promise, as shortly I'll be acting to at least make the tiny part of the world that I've got control over sustainable and indeed a peaceful oasis.