Wednesday, 30 June 2004

Hit And Kiss

I was talking the other day to David and he said something that made me sad. I mentioned one the students, called Sandra, a girl of about 6, and how whenever I pass her in the classroom she grabs for my hand and tries to kiss me.

David said, "She grabs for my hand too, but not to kiss me, just to hit me. I'm so ugly that all the kids try to hit me."

Actually, it didn't make me sad at all. I just laughed at him.


I just received this email from my good friend Emily, who is currently travelling about SE Asia and whom I'll be meeting next month in Laos during my week's holiday.

I am rolling about on the floor, howlng, screaming with laughter. I am more hysterical than the time you carried me home through the Trinity/ Bon accord whatever centre after the schooner.

All this, at the thought of you with your male handbag.

I love it.

Can I just emphasise that it is not a male handbag, it is simply a handy bag made for men. Indeed, you could term it a "manbag". A manbag is, in fact, a very masculine thing, as Emily will see when I present myself before her fashioning the said item.

Tuesday, 29 June 2004


I've made quite a few children cry in my six months of teaching, but today I had the honour getting my first child to bleed.

It was Ocean, the second youngest class in the school, of 4 and 5 year olds. On Tuesdays I take them, all 7 of them, to gym class. Although a lovely class, they seem to spend 50% of their time fighting, crying and saying "I'm sorry" or "Mi-an-hae" so I have to be careful what games I play because half of then descend quickly into three kids crying and the other four crowded round them apologising. Always over absolutely nothing, of course. Fights, by the way, are never actually proper fighting (which I'd actively encourage for entertainment value) but are just one kid putting their head in their hands and making a show of being in a huff.

Anyway, today I devised this game where they run in a circle to music, and when the music stops they have to pick up a small piece of red lego from somewhere around the room, and the child that doesn't have a piece of lego is out. Lego is small enough so that two kids won't be holding it and having the inevitable fight and cry. The reason I was keen on this game was because it meant I could play my own music, and so I had seven little Korean children running about excitedly to Felix Da Housecat's Bugged Out mix. This an admittedly average mix by one of house music's premier DJs. Fortunately my kids aren't too critical over their techno mixes quite yet, so were delighted to run about in circles.

The game was very successful and virtually without fights, until a moment of excitement caused a collision between Mikey and Eric, leaving Eric the worse off. He's prone to nosebleeds I think, and it was pouring away, mixing with his little infant tears. Shock reverberated throughout the rest of the class and Jerry ran away to get Cathy-teacher, who put Eric on the sofa. Every child who is sick gets to sit on the sofa, which magically cures all.

A dog, you may or may not know, can chase sheep innocently and all is ok. But when the dog finally attacks a sheep and draws blood, then things are never the same again. With the taste of blood the dog is taken back to its primeval roots and becomes savage around sheep in future, so must be destroyed or removed from sheep vicinity. Well, I've compared myself to a dog in the past, and again the comparison returns. For six months I've been teaching children, helping them, trying to better their lives.

But today I got my first taste of blood.

Monday, 28 June 2004

The Gin Girls And Other Koreans

Quite a pleasant weekend, in a fairly minimal and laid back kind of way.

It began at 3am on Saturday morning, when I woke to watch the European football, as ever. This time France lost 1-0 to Greece, which amused me greatly.

At 11am it was to the YMCA. Not for some man-on-man action, but because that's where my Korean lessons take place. This time, though, it was test day. I wasn't terribly nervous because there's nothing much at stake except pride, and I was fairly confident that the reading and writing part would be within my realms of comprehension. So it proved. Not easy, though, but manageable and I'm confident of a good result. The speaking test I didn't even realise was taking place until about half way through. I thought it was just our teacher chatting to us. I blundered about like a backwards child, but was alright overall.

There was a party afterwards. This being the YMCA and just noon, it wasn't a raging affair of soju and debauchery, but rather just a congregation of all the classes round a set of tables for pizza, fruit and coke (coca cola). As mentioned it my last entry, I'm very anti-social these days and prefer not to meet people I don't already know, so did my best to avoid any sort of conversation with anybody. I talked to Tim, of course, and both our teachers in the end. Tim fancies one of the teachers, a tall, attractive, very innocent-seeming one, and was most annoyed when she chose to sit next to me (being surly and trying to avoid eye contact with everybody) and chat away in pidgin Korean.

I'm obviously popular with the Korean ladies right now because afterwards I was desperately trying to find good CDs in the only slightly decent CD shop in Daegu, and was approached by a schoolgirl. This, it goes without saying, is always something I encourage. I think she was wanting to practice her English, and it was very good English. She recommended a CD to me and we chatted about music for a while and I decided to take a risk on the CD because it sounded like it might be ok. She was delighted I was going for her recommendation and gave me her discount card to use, which got me 25% off. She was a very charming Korean school girl indeed and the best thing about her was that she was called "Hyu-joo" which sounds just like "Huge Jew".

The CD turned out to be utter pish and I broke it into pieces and threw it in the bin. No, it was alright, quite poppy but in a summery, laid back, acceptable way and I'll certainly listen to it more in future. Well done Huge Jew!

I couldn't be bothered saving orphans that afternoon so dozed a little and then did some shopping and internet and was in bed for about 10pm so I could watch Holland beat Sweden on penalties the following morning.

Sunday was a good day, most notable for being my first lesson with my 132nd student, the shopkeeper's 23 year old nubile daughter. I met her at noon and the good news was that I was getting two for the price of one, as she was bringing a friend. The daughter is called Hyo-Joo (that's Hyo, not Hyu) I think and the friend something like Sun-i (as in a type of Muslim).

I was pleased about this development as it means that when gin is introduced into the lessons, there will be twice as much fun. From now on I'm going to refer to my two new students - nos 132 and 133 - as the "Gin Girls".

Anyway, it turned out to be enormous fun. We went to Hyo-Joo's (i.e. her parent's) home and spent over three hours in total working in a mixture of English and Korean. Their English isn't terribly developed, it's very obviously school English, and is probably just a step above my Korean. We used a textbook as our working template and just threw words at each other and tried to make sense.

Time went by very fast and it definitely did me good to have people to really practice my Korean with. Sun-i said she was very excited and hoped we could have a good friendship. I said "oori-nun jigum jin-ul masyeo-yo" which means "Now, we drink gin." No, I didn't actually, I just agreed.

Despite all my lecherous gin talk here, and my ignoble intentions, the girls were both very pleasant and fun, and good company. I'd been worried I might end up with a surly cow or someone too shy for their own good, and it would all feel too much like work, but it was anything but. It was very enjoyable.

Next meeting is Friday 8.30pm at my apartment. We'll talk in English and Korean at first, but by 9.30pm I hope that it will only be the gin talking...

Late afternoon then, and after the language exchange, it started to piss down with rain quite severely and so began an enjoyably thunder storm which unfortunately resulted in my TV reception getting cut entirely. As a result I had to go to Tim's house to watch the football last night/this morning, which resulted in me getting about 2 hours sleep today. And as it's now 7pm, this means I'm rather tired. Hence I'm going to leave the school right now, go to my little shop and buy some milkshakes (I sometimes get them free now), eat some food and go to bed.



My back is unusually sweaty today

Anti-social Nev

"What's happened to Nev?" seemed to have been a popular question this weekend, as both Matt and Tim relayed the message that a number of people had been expressing it.

Where am I? Well, nowhere really. The truth is,I have become very anti-social recently.

The football has exacerbated this condition, but my sociability index was on a steep downward trend for many weeks before it. Currently, my living schedule is: wake at 3.30am, watch football, study some Korean and do bits and pieces in my apartment till working from 10.30 to 7. I aim to be asleep in bed by 9pm.

I should mention that I'm hugely enjoying this new schedule and am seriously considering maintaining it even after the end of football.

However, it's killed my social life. And I don't care. I no longer have evenings free as I'm sleeping, which means that during the week I see none of my friends. And now, over weekends, as I don't go out drinking any more, this has resulted in most of my friends disappearing from my life. They're just a phonecall away, but to be honest, I can't really be bothered to see them anyway.

A few exceptions. Matt I still see every week. And through him, I see Rebecca also, who I like and get on with. We'll sometimes just meet for coffee, or go and see a film, or just piss about.

I see Tim a lot through both Korean class and the orphanage, which is where I see Mariano too. I also seem to see Laura quite frequently too.

The rest of my friends, increasingly little. A big goodbye for Kristi, who has now left Korea. I knew she was leaving in a few weeks, but it all happened much quicker than expected and suddenly she was having her leaving night on Monday. I knew about it but... just couldn't be bothered. I wanted to go to sleep instead.

The thing is, I'm gloriously happy with my life right now. I enjoy studying Korean, teaching might be tiring but is mostly enjoyable, and I enjoy having all this free time in the morning now, rather than the evening. In the morning I have energy to do things; in the evening I was always knackered.

The crux of the matter is that friendships (especially fairly new ones) need maintenance and I just don't have the time, energy or will for that maintenance. Weekdays, I'd far rather stay in than go out. Weekends, I'd rather wind down than get revved up. I suppose I'm also happy that if I ever want to go out, I can.

Yeah, it's likely that I'll still see some of these forgotten faces in the next month or two, but I'm afraid I'm a rubbish friend right now. I also haven't been drunk in a couple of months - maybe tipsy once. I think, possibly, a big drunken night might be looming. Matt seems keen for one, mostly because he's off his medication, and so is now allowed to drink again.

But when it comes down to it, given a choice between football and friendship, football will always be the victor.


Tuesday, 22 June 2004

The 132nd Student

This morning I worked out how many students I teach over the course of one week. I get most classes twice a week, and some up to five times. In total, I teach 131 students, all of which I now know the names of (the final class clicked into place last week). My class size ranges from 5 to 12. The average child is 8 years 5 months and a day, is 4 foot 11, 61% male, quite nice, and is fully Korean.

None of these statistics takes into account, however, the 132nd student...

I don't know my 132nd student's name, but I do know that she is 23, about 5 foot 10, 100% female (I hope), quite nice and is fully Korean. Yes, she's the daughter of the shopkeeper that I agreed to give free English lessons to in order to practice my Korean. Last Friday I met her for the first time, and the first lesson takes place this coming Sunday.

I may have mentioned, but I was a little anxious about this girl. Because what if she looked like a pig? Teaching a troll would be no fun at all, and I'm sure my Korean wouldn't improve much. So, fingers were crossed that she'd have acquired no stray bad genes from her handsome father and attractive mother.

Fortunately, it all turned out well. On Friday, when in the shop, she appeared in the door, the fine figure of an attractive young woman. Her English doesn't appear too good, in fact it's possible it's on about a par with my Korean. All the negotiations about where and when to meet for the lesson were done in Korean, with a smattering of German too from the father.

The poor father. He obviously thinks I'm a trustworthy fellow and is happily sending is daughter to learn English from me, whereas all she'll really learn is the true meaning of corruption.

Anyway, she appeared very pleasant (and of course, it is the personality that counts...) and quite shy too. The first lesson is scheduled for this Sunday at noon, in my apartment.

These are the first things I'm going to teach her:

1. I want gin, please.
2. I want more gin, please.
3. Please Nev, may I have more gin?
4. More gin now!
5. God Bless Scotland and God Bless Gin!
6. Yes, you can touch me.

It will be a joy to teach someone the joys of gin, in English. My kindergarten classes never quite got it, even when I mixed it with their milk.

So this week I have been exhaustively cleaning my apartment in preparation for this event, to make myself look civilised of course but also simply for health reasons. As I've only been teaching mostly reluctant children to date, it's going to be an interesting challenge to teach an interested adult. I'm hoping she'll be a bit better behaved than my kids, and unlike Eric of Ocean class last week, not wet herself. Likewise, not vomit or wipe snot across her face. Also, I'm hoping she's not obsessed with "ddong", i.e. faeces, like much of my children. Or shout "game ! game!" every five minutes. Actually, I may allow that one.

I was in the shop last night and my 132nd student and her mother were behind the counter. And they gave me a free juice and a free iced tea. This is a very promising development.

I asked David how many students he has, and he only has about 110. Therefore, if student numbers were a guage of teaching ability, I would be 20% a better teacher than him.

And, incidentally, 428% better than my mother.

Monday, 21 June 2004

Cash Soaked

Right now, back in my apartment, I have about 800,000 Won (£400) soaking in my sink.

This isn't for fun, or a burglar-tricking technique, but rather a cleansing operation. A couple of months ago I put all my money in the bin because I had to leave my apartment but couldn't find the key. The bin, I reckoned, would be a fairly safe place to hide my money.

But a couple of months passed and the money just remained in the bin. This bin is a barely used one at the corner of my room. But last week, I decided to take it out to avoid that awful scenario of actually throwing it away accidently. And something in that bin had rotted and putried and turned mushy, emitting a smell like HP Sauce, and was covering my money.

Hence, I decided to clean it. I considered the washing machine but reckon that might be a bad idea, so I'm hoping there can come no harm in soaking cash in water. Hopefully, unlike Levi jeans, it won't shrink.

Thursday, 17 June 2004

On Course For The Championship

Remarkably, my new footballing schedule isn't killing me. I'm probably only getting about 4 hours of sleep a night, but during teaching I usually only suffer a 20 minute spell of ghastly fatigue. Also, the effort in staying awake at such inapprpriate times makes the games much more enjoyable because of the challenge involved.

It was all a bit messed with last night though, because after work I went with the other teachers to the riverside, where we cooked meat and drank beer and soju. I think one of the Korean teachers - Cathy - made a salacious comment about me and my newly discovered good dress sense.

Actually, yesterday I was looking my best yet. In snug-fitting jeans and an equally snug fitting black top revealing a hint of chest, I only had to take a peek at myself in the mirror to realise what a fabulous specimen I was.

Anyway, I'm well on course for seeing every game right now, meaning that I'll have watched every game of this Euro Championships and the last World Cup live. Which is a definite achievement, if one that is of dubious merit.

Tuesday, 15 June 2004

Well-Dressed Nev

I am a dapper young gentleman today.

Before Sunday, I was not so. In fact, I was reduced to one pair of trousers, which were faded and stained. I'd a few ok T-shirts, but a number more that were just incorrect. My shoes were diabolical. I was aware of all this but such is my hatred of shopping that I was unwilling to do much about it.

I hate shopping. It's bad back in Scotland but it's worse here. Here, there is no escape, as I'm obviously foreign and the Korean way is for the shop assistants to literally follow you about the shop, almost so closely as to be rubbing you up. Therefore, my fear of shopping greatly outdid my need.

Fortunately, this changed on Sunday. Not my fear, but I managed to get assistance. Or rather, employ some, in the shape of Rebecca. I told her that I'd pay her 10,000 Won (£5) an hour to assist me with my shopping. And so, three hours of shopping later and 400,000 Won (I'll let you convert it into pounds because I'd rather not) I have now an arsenal of clothing.

I was even fairly good company, and didn't get angry or frustrated once.

I now have three new pairs of trousers. A grey pair, safe in my traditional style. A khaki pair that Rebecca claimed to be her favourite item of the day. They're smooth material and snug fitting, but without the tightness of my emergency trousers that threatened my feritility rate. And the third pair... are jeans. I've not worn jeans in 7 years, but I was persuaded to try a pair on, and they were a very good fit, so I went for it.

I added three T-shirts and a shirt: a good-looking brown one, a tightish black one that reveal "some chest", a slightly looser blue one, and the shirt is a short sleeved khaki-brown shirt that makes me feel Korean when I wear it.

I got a pair of shoes. Doc Martens, which are tought, resilent, and they even polished my old shoes as part of the service.

And finally, a bag. Not a rucksack, as I've refused to wear a rucksack since I was 18, because it made me feel like a student. But a "male handbag". This is something that I admit I probably wouldn't risk going out on the town with in Aberdeen, for fear of being beaten up, but it's very normal in Korea, and Rebecca insisted was maculine. It's certainly very convenient, and looks good.

So, all this means I'm now looking suave, dapper, handsome and respectable and no longer the homeless Westerner look that I was previously peddling. A couple of the Korean teacher commented on it yesterday, and I feel far happier being seen in public once again.

Also, it hopefully means no more shopping for at least a year.

Sunday, 13 June 2004


Just next to my shop is a little grocery shop. I go there almost daily and have gotten to know the owner and his wife a little.

They don't speak English, but the man spent a lot of time in Germany and so speaks German. However, as I don't speak German this isn't of much use. Fortunately though, the Korean I'm learning is becoming useful and we're able to have short exchanges, most often about teaching each other words in each other's language. He's a very friendly man, and his wife likewise.

So today, we were having a "chat", and he began talking about his son and daughter. His daughter, it seems, is 23 and a university student. I'm not sure if it's English she's specifically studying or if it's just part of her course, but the man got round to the subject whether I'd be willing to help with her English. For a fee of course.

In the English teaching community of Korea, this is called a "private." They're technically illegal as they break the terms of our contract and work visa, but so long as you're discreet this is not a problem. Most teacher's have a private at some stage, some have lots. Matt, for example, earns over 1 million a month (£500) from a series of private lessons he teaches.

However, I've not been keen to take on a private so haven't even been remotely looking for one. My teaching hours are longer than most and while I enjoy the job, at the end of the day I very much like to be resting at home. The thought of another hour of teaching was not appealing.

My friend the shopkeeper is a nice man, however, and he asked me "How many?" meaning, how much would you charge? Well, the going rate is between 30-40000 Won (£15-£20) an hour but I thought about it quickly and realised I didn't want to charge him this. But I had a better idea.

She wants to practice English, and I need to convert my good written and reading Korean to good listening and speaking Korean. So I told the man "kong, zero" and "yongu-rul karuchyeyo, hankuku-rul karuchyeyo" which more or less means "I teach English, she teaches Korean."

This suits me fine. I'd not be comfortable with being paid stupid amount of money to speak English. Most English teachers in Korea have no real skills other than happening to speak their native language and having a degree in a completely unrelated field. I'm lucky to be here, earning good money for speaking my own language. I do work hard, but I'm still privileged. So I don't need to charge this man who works night and day in a grocery shop, for his daughter to improve her English. Especially now as I'll also benefit from her Korean.

Remember, I'm now a good person. I help out at an orphanage (you'd better believe that I milk this for everything it's worth and I let everybody know).

And also. This man, he's a handsome gent in his 50's. His wife is a tidy piece of fluff too, for her age certainly. Odds are on that this daughter is going to shape up well as a fine figure of Korean charm. After a few lessons, it will be a small step to feeding her gin and taking advantage.

And if she's not a beauty and is some sort of manpig, then I'll just walk away from her the moment I set eyes on the wench, and never go back to her father's shop again.

I'm a man of honour.

My New Football Schedule

For those of you with even the vaguest interest in football, then you'll be aware that the Euro 2004 championships have just kicked off, the second biggest football tournament in the world. This promises to wreak havoc with my sleeping schedule and for the coming week I am fully expecting to be a shell of a human being.

During the last World Cup two years ago, which was co-staged by Korea of course, I set myself a mission to watch every single game of football - 64 in 4 weeks - without compromising a lifestyle which celebrated late night to early morning drinking hedonism. It almost killed me. I would work in the evenings, then go out and get plastered, and then either have a few hours sleep or just not sleep at all, before watching football from 7am to 2pm. This routine went on for three weeks before getting a day's break, and by the end of it I was gaunt, pale, ill and too spaced to think. While watching the matches, I'd find myself passing out. In the third week, it was more about endurance than enjoyment. When finally, there were two days break from football before restarting, I was a very relieved man.

This tournament isn't as gruelling in terms of quantity of matches, but the times they are on are. This week, there are two games daily, at 1am and 3.45am local time. I plan to watch every game. From next week it's just the one game, at 3.45am, so that's ok.

It's going to shatter me. I work hard at my school and I need my rest during the week. My schedule for the coming week will be:

1am. Wake up. Have dinner. Watch the first match.
3am. Shower for my coming day.
3.45am. Watch the second match.
5.45am. Go to bed.
10am. Wake up and run to school.
7pm. Return from work. Go straight to bed.

My students better not expect Nev-teacher to be his usual chirpy playful self this week. And they damn better well be quiet in class.


I've been in Korea for over six months now, and lived in my apartment for all but the first week. My apartment is good because: the bills are very cheap, there's always hot water, it's always a pleasant temperature, and it's very coneniently located next to the subway and near my school.

My apartment is bad because: it's small, dark, next to a very big road and so always noisy, and it has ants crawling along the wall.

To be fair, the ants are not a problem, the most miserable part of my apartment is simply the cramped dark noisy confines. It can be shining brightly outside and I still have to have my light on. I can't open the two tiny windows because the noise of traffic is too loud.

It's all ok in winter but now it's warm and sunny and light, there's no fun in hanging around my apartment (indeed, I am the only person to have set foot in it in months) and so it's a good impetus to get out of the house. But there are times when I'd like to be able to relax at home and still enjoy the sunshine.

Well, now I can.

Last night, I was at Rebecca's apartment with Matt, and we were on the rooftop. It was calm and peaceful and had a good view. Oh, I lamented to my two friends, how I wish I had such a rooftop.

Then, it occurred to me that I'd never actually checked. And so today I did. And I have a rooftop! The noise of traffic is minimal, it's lit up by the sunshine, and it has a fabulous view. To the north green mountains undulate behind a heat haze, to the south more green mountains behind a winding river, and immediately around me the cars seem less pesky, there are some plots of land used for growing vegetables, and best of all is this area of small 1/2 storey houses. I'm a good few storeys above then and am blessed with a glorious overhead view of all these traditionally styled Korean houses with a pathwork of multicoloured slated roofs. It's a very upliftng sight.

So I'm very happy about this discovery and will be using my rooftop a lot over the summer. Still, I can't believe it took me six months to realise it.

I suppose now I should explore where the stairs lead down towards now.

Magic & Dog

There's a pet shop with the wonderful name of "Magic & Dog" not far from my apartment. Today, as I passed, it had really loud Korean rap music blaring from it, as the tiny miniature dogs cowered. Sometimes I love Korea.

Friday, 11 June 2004

Poor Tired Ray

Poor little Ray was very tired today.

Ray of M1 class (formerly Ray 2 of T1 class, but rightfully promoted) is a good student. Bright, eager, straightforward and hardworking, he causes me little trouble. He's about 8 years old and today was a very, very sleepy little 8 year old.

I had to wake him up six times. The room was pretty hot today and I had the children doing their workbooks, so I wasn't actively engaging the class for the full 40 minutes. It was just up to them to get on with it. Ray is a good kid, not malicious and not lazy, so I don't have to keep a close eye on him. It was one of the girls who pointed out to me that he was sleeping. His pencil still clutched in his little hand, still sitting upright, he was fast asleep.

Of course, I can't be having students sleeping in my class, so I shushed up the class and quietly walked over to him. I took a pencil and stuck it in his ear. His eyes opened sleepily and it took him about two seconds to process what was going on, before he leapt up in shock.

The other students thought this was very funny.

A minute later he was sleeping again. So again, I walked over to him but this time had a better idea. I have a clock I take with me (the one that's set five minute slow to fool my students) and it has an alarm. So I set the alarm and stuck it right next to Ray's ear, and set it off.

Poor Ray was a little surprised yet again. The other students were extremely amused.

This occurred a further four times in ten minutes, and by the final time I realised that poor Ray really was very tired indeed and, as he's a good kid, I decided to torture him no more and just let him sleep.

When the bell went and all the other kids left the class, Ray continued to sleep soundly. His head wasn't on the desk, but was propped up as if he was just resting his head on a hand. I let the new class filter in to see if Ray noticed, telling them to be quiet. Ray didn't notice.

Until I set the alarm off against his ear for the fifth time, and he woke with a start. And it took him about 20 seconds to realise that the kids surrounding him were all about 2 year older and not his class any more, He seemed baffled for a second, and then desperately tried to pack all his stuff away but managed to spill the contents of his bag everywhere, as the older kids laughed at him.

Poor Ray. Part of me knows that I should take less enjoyment from his confusion, but part of me also knows that when I was in school I wouldn't have been allowed to sleep in class, so it's a fair trade. He can sleep in class if I can abuse him for the amusement of myself and the other students.

Thursday, 10 June 2004

A Real Education

I just finished a test today with my most junior afternoon class. Maybe about 6 or 7 years old, about 12 of them. Very basic English - half of them can't even answer the "What is your name" question.

However, there is one question which I've never known a student, no matter how young, how stupid, how limited the English, ever not get. Show them a picture of a monkey and they immediately cry "monkey!"

So no matter what my failings as a teacher, after a year of this I am confident I will be able to leave behind well over 100 children, all of whom know how to say "monkey" in English.

Ghost School

I arrived at my school, as usual, at 10.30am this morning. To find... a ghost school...

Well, not quite. Winnie the receptionist was there, but the usual bustle of children being taught, and teachers and bus drivers were curiously absent. Winnie looked surprised to see me. I was equally surprised to see just her.

It turns out there was a fieldtrip today, leaving at 10am as they usually do. There's one every few weeks or so, and they'd obviously just forgotten to tell me. This isn't the first time - a couple of times I've received a phonecall telling me to get to the school as quickly as I can because there's a fieldtrip on.

Yeah, communication is lacking here sometimes. In all likelihood David didn't know either, but as he's always at the school early every day he would have just found out this morning.

I quite enjoy fieldstrips, but I'm not too upset to be missing out today as it means I don't have any classes till 2.30pm, and of the five I do have today, two are doing tests which are always dead easy to do.

However, it does mean that I'll have to find my own lunch.

The school is strange when it's so empty and quiet. All the lights to the classes are off. Sometimes, at the corner of my eye, I think I see the shadow of a young child dash by. But I turn my head, and there's nothing. Then the patter of feet, or the echo of laughter. But all so distant and ghostly that it can only be my imagination. And most spookily are the bells, which still go off every 40 minutes, loudly. But these bells are playing to an empty school, to children that are no longer here.

In actual fact, Korea strikes me as remarkably unhaunted. Maybe in some of these temples there may be a few monk ghosts, but in the cities it's all new apartment blocks and continual renovations. There's no time or space for ghosts here.

Anyway, I'm getting hungry.

Wednesday, 9 June 2004

Red And Tired: The Weekend: Sunday

Right, while I've got a little time, I'll catch up on Sunday.

I woke a little groggy on Sunday morning, 9ish, after having been medium drunk till 3am the night before. I didn't want to get up but had to meet Matt at the subway an hour or so later, to get a bus to the Catholic University where an orphanage fundraising football tournament was taking place at noon.

This I did, and Rebecca was with Matt too. We then waited around a while for a friend of Rebecca's called Kate until I started getting very restless and impatient because I hate hanging around and being late. We finally gave up - 20 minutes after I wanted to - when it transpired that Kate was still on the other side of the city.

The Catholic University was about 40 minutes bus ride away, but only 700 Won (35p) thankfully. As we walked up its main road I began to get rather nervous at the prospect of being surrounded by hundreds and maybe thousands of Catholics, which being from a Protestant background has taught me to be extremely wary of. Catholics are people, yes, but perhaps that's the only good thing to be said about them. It was drummed into me from a very young age to avoid Catholics and even though I am now a confirmed atheist, these instincts are still within me.

I said some of this, only to then discover that Rebecca was Catholic.

Anyway, it was a scorching hot day, glorious blue sky, and the university was quite a bit away from the filth of Daegu city and so the air was clear, and bouncy green hills smiled at us. The football pitch was in a dusty oval surrounded by rings of conrete seating. Quite a lot of people were there and some of them looked quite serious about their football. At which point I got nervous.

I've told you before, but after letting in over 60 goals in 8 games while at university myself, playing football at an even vaguely competitive level (i.e. against people who are not: children, old, crippled or female) scares me. And the fear came back today. Fortunately, I had no team assigned to me so did my very best to avoid Mariano finding one for me.

Other people joined myself, Matt and Rebecca, such as Laura, Kristi, John, Greta and this girl Kate and a friend of hers called Yesania (Spanish apparently, though she looked Indian). After Kate had made me late, I'd made up my mind not to like her, even though she was very attractive, so did my best to ignore her or be fairly abrupt with her, but it unfortunately turned out that she was a very lovely girl. She was fun, attractive, friendly, didn't mind or notice my rudeness, and I'd happily have given her a poke. However, as she apparently has a boyfriend, I would of course not be so ignoble.

I enjoyed sitting in the sun for a while, and me and John also gave a couple of orphanage boys a kickaround with a ball, which made me feel better about my skills. So much so, that I agreed to take part in a makeshift team of me, Matt, John, Kate and Yesania. Not against proper people though, but against some small children.

I didn't have any proper clothing, so just had to play with my trousers and rubbish shoes, but it'd be a lie to claim that as reason for my poor showing. I ended up playing in a kids team of an uncertain number against another team of an equally uncertain number, but both with a sprinlking of adult players. My team had Mariano however, who was once offered a scholarship for "soccer" in America but turned it down, but is very. very good. Hence, our team won, 4-2 I think. I almost scored a goal too. I was like lightning down the right wing the entire game, and found myself in a great scoring opportunity. The shot was like a rocket, a fat beast of a rocket, but the goalkeeper found himself stuck in its path and the shot bounced off him.

Anyway, after our great victory against children, I was comprehensively shattered and had to lie down for a while. A troubled lie down though, as I'd been given the news that due to this victory we would now progress in the championship, to play a proper team.

This troubled me, until I realised that also in my team would be two girls, Kate and Yosemite, or whatever her name was. Thus, no way could I be the worst player. And I wasn't - Yosenya turned out to be worse, and Kate was about the same. Our team only lost 4-2 and it was a good game. Because I was vastly outclassed on the field, I didn't have to run about as much so was far less tired.

We all sat about for a while, enjoying the great weather, and having some ambient chat, until it was about 6pm and we decided to get some food in town. The group I ended up with were Matt, Rebecca, Kate and Yoesenyua. We found a great Korean chicken restaurant and ate there before going to a DVD room and watching an entertaining enough film called "School of Rock".

We then went to an arcade room where I played shooting games and the rest attemped the rubbish dance mat machine, in which you have to put your feet on the right zones in time to the music. Fun in 1985.

Then a bar for a drink to finish off our evening, about 12.30am. After my cynicism from the day before about not really being fussed about seeing my friends and also the highly complacent feeling of late that I can't be bothered making new friends, it was good to have an enjoyable day with friends new and old. Kate's the only person in months that I've not only got on with but would hope to see again. I'm such a lazy sod of late that I'm content just studying Korean, watching wrestling and popping along to the orphanage. Every time I meet new people, I'm perfectly happy to have a very casual chat but I don't care if I ever see them again. A poor attitude, I suppose. But I got on really well with this girl Kate, who I'm aware I'm raving on about. Maybe I'll have to kneecap this boyfriend.

Anyway, as a result of the weekend, and the Sunday especially, I'm now very red. Face and arms and neck. All my kids have commented on it, because it makes a change from the paleness I usually radiate. I should have been quite burnt but I wasn't really, it just stung mildly.

Also as a result, I've been forced to wear my final emergency pair of trousers. I only took three to Korea with me. On Saturday I somehow ripped a pair at the Korea match, and my pair from Sunday are covered with dirt and dust. Thus, I'm wearing a pair of trousers that are approaching ludicrous levels of tightness (little is left to the imagination) and also happen to have a burn mark in the crotch area.

I'm going on a big clothes shopping soon.

Anyway, that's the weekend caught up with. Today is my easy day at work, although I do have the double header of F2 and M7 at the end - cheeky, whiney, fat Jenn followed by wirey, whiney, screeching Annie.

My Vital Role

"Teacher! Teacher! William, David fighting!"

"Fighting? Who's fighting?"

"William! David! Fighting!"

"William? David? Fighting?"

"Yes! William! David! Fighting!"

(to a pair of nearby glum boys) "William, David, are you fighting?"

(both nod morosely)

"William, David, no fighting. Say sorry."

"I'm sorry." "I'm sorry."

"Good. No more fighting. Goodbye"

Hasselhoff Arrested

Hey, David Hasselhoff has been arrested:

David Hasselhoff Arrested

6 7, 10:20 ¿ÀÀü EST

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- David Hasselhoff was arrested over the weekend on suspicion on driving while intoxicated, police said Monday.

The former "Baywatch" star was arrested late Saturday night on Ventura Boulevard in the Encino section of the San Fernando Valley, said Officer Sara Faden, a police spokeswoman. He was released the next morning.

No further details were immediately available.

In 2002, Hasselhoff checked himself into the Betty Ford Center for treatment of alcoholism.

The 51-year-old actor is best known for portraying lifeguard Mitch Buchannon in the long-running "Baywatch" TV series.

But what's this? Best known for his portrayal of a lifeguard in Baywatch? I think not. What about Knightrider? Who the hell are these hack journalists?

Tuesday, 8 June 2004

Too Much Wrestling

I watched five hours of WWE Wrestling last night, which I admit was a little excessive.

And I'm not absolutely sure, but I have a feeling I may have had some unsettlingly pornographic dreams as a result.

Monday, 7 June 2004

Red And Tired: The Weekend: Saturday

It's Monday again, and not even half way through the day yet and I'm knackered, as well as being covered in pain, and shining red like a beacon of jam. I know that, come 7pm and the end of my day, I'm going to be exhausted but I don't care because it was a great weekend, worth all the pain now, and when I get home I've got hours of wrestling to watch.

Yeah, it was a very good weekend, and absolutely non-stop. I was in my apartment literally only to sleep, and even that wasn't much.

Saturday first, began as standard. To the YMCA as usual for my Korean lesson. It's only got three weeks left and then we get a test, and then there's no new courses till September. Hopefully we can arrange something, as Tim is also very keen to keep learning. It was a good lesson. Hard, and the remaining five people there (from an initial ten or twelve) were all really pushed hard. But my studying definitely has paid off, as I was good, especially in the reading. When it comes to the test, I'm very confident of aceing the reading the writing, but my listening is poor (in comparision) and my speaking isn't much better.

Some sushi with Tim after, and then an attemped CD shopping before the orphanage. However, I have drained the one remaining CD shop in Daegu of all good music and so there's nothing there for me any longer.

The orphanage was good. Matt came for his debut and seemed to enjoy it too. It was actually quite upside down from usual. Normally the teaching is pretty shoddy and undisciplined and my best time is spent playing football or basketball afterwards. This time, I had two girls and two boys and they were really keen. They had great fun as I made up little competitions with flashcards, and their English vocabulary was good. The more I go, the easier it gets, as the kids know my name now and I'm becoming one of the most established volunteers there are. A lot of people come and go for just a couple of times, but as my Saturday afternoon alternative would probably end up being spent vegetating in my stinking apartment, the orphanage is a far better alternative.

Plus, I am now able to take the moral highground with most people because I'm now an officially good citizen.

I had a quick beer with Matt after that and then it was off to the World Cup Stadium. Not for just another Daegu FC game, but a proper international: Korea vs Turkey. Football disciples and hangers-on should all know that Turkey last played Korea for the 3rd place position in the World Cup two years ago in Korea, Turkey winning 3-2 and scoring the fastest World Cup goal of all time (I think). Thus, I imagine Turkey had returned to replay the match.

The World Cup Stadium in Daegu is over 60,000 capacity and while it wasn't full, it had about 40,000 people there, and there was far more atmosphere than a Daegu game. I joined a number of people there. As well as Matt, there were: Laura, Rebecca, Mik, Greta, Kristi, John, Denise, Eileen and Nicky.

All these people are my friends in Daegu but in the last few weeks since I stopped getting drunk, and I lost my phone too, have been people I've seen hardly anything of. And this is probably indicative of my values as a friend, but I don't really care. I mean, I enjoy meeting up with them if it's convenient and enjoy going out for a drink or two, but I can't really be bothered these days. I see Matt a lot of course, but I've become very very lazy recently regarding maintaining friendships. I like all these people too, but I've become very happy with a lifestyle of early mornings and Korean study, and I don't enjoy getting drunk anymore. Maybe after years of hedonism back in Aberdeen, I want a change now I'm abroad.

It was good seeing everyone though and I am entirely to blame for my withdrawal from the world. We all drank liberally at the match (you can drink while watching football in Korea, which is a delight) and after a fairly lacklustre first half, Korea came back from a goal down to win 2-1.

After eventually managing to find a bus to take us downtown, a selection of us ate galbi and had more beer and then ended up at a bar, AU. By now, I was quite drunk although far from wasted. Matt managed to get the phonenumber of a Russian barmaid he chatted up, which will be very handy for learning Russian, which we still haven't started. She was apparently very attractive but I only saw the back of her head, although as backs-of-heads go, it wasn't bad.

At just before 3am everyone moved off to a club but at this stage I realised that it was time to call it quits. I knew I was drunk enough and if I carried on any longer it would suddenly be 6am and I'd be wasted, and I wouldn't really enjoy it anyway. So, almlost a unique experience for me, I called my night to and end early - while drunk - and went home. I actually think my drinking days are over now.

That was Saturday and it was good, but Sunday was much better but I've got to go and teach 6 straight classes now (that is, 6 classes in a row, not 6 classes of heterosexuals as my teaching encompasses students of all sexualities and lifestyle choices, of course). I'll try and write about Sunday... hmm... tomorrow.

Wednesday, 2 June 2004


There are many things I enjoy in this life, but one of the things I enjoy most is being horrible to my kids, in an underhand way.

Most of my classes know now that there's little to be gained by yelling "game, game, game!" enthusiastically at me. This is because if they I write the word "game" on the board and tell them that if they say it five times then there'll definitely be no game.

It's pretty academic, because I hardly ever give them a game anyway. And if I do, it last for about 20 seconds before the bell goes, and is as dry as dust.

I also now bring a small clock into class with me. This clock is set 4 minutes slow. This is because I sometimes promise them that if they work then they'll get a game (the fact that my games are less fun than work doesn't seem to deter them) in the last 5 minutes of class. Of course, what they don't know is that as well as manipulating them, I'm also manipulating time. So, if they have worked quite hard and I do tell them "Books way - game!" then they have about one minute to put their books away and prepare for the excitement of a game before the bell goes. My poor kids never seem to twig that all the odds are very heavily stacked against them for getting a game.

And believe, right now there is little that gives me more satisfaction than saying "Books away - game!" before the bell goes and I say well, "Oh well, better work harder next time."

Tuesday, 1 June 2004


I sometimes have to remind myself that the children I teach are actually real people. I find myself in this mindset that they're just animals, to be herded and controlled.

It also disturbs me that at this young age, I may actually be influencing some of these children.

But it disturbs me more that they may be influencing me. Here are some things that I now do since I began teaching, that I didn't do before.

1. Learn a foreign language

2. Watch WWE Wrestling passionately

3. Say "so-so" and "same-same"

4. Defecate in my pants.

5. Stopped getting drunk (two weeks now!)

6. Think only of myself

7. Cry at thunder

8. Cry when I don't get my way

9. Cry when there's the vaguest notion that someone may have said something less than delightful about me

10. Cry for attention

11. Get excited about aeroplanes.

Spanish And The Wrestling

It looks like I've dropped Spanish. I didn't go last night, making it three weeks in a row I've missed.

There are a few reasons why I'm dropping it. One, I'm also learning Korean and Russian. Two, these other languages are or will be of direct use to me and I'm currently hugely enjoying them, especially the Korean. But while Spanish is a very useful language, it hasn't gripped me so far. Maybe because it's got the same alphabet as English.

Also, 10.30pm on Mondays was a very bad time for me. I was always knackered, and it ended up costing me quite a lot in taxis every week as well as the tuition fee.

But mostly, my reasons for dropping Spanish is the wrestling.

I've been really getting into the wrestling right now, that is WWE, the real wrestling with The Undertaker and Triple H and Kane. It's great. Massive guys chucking each other about, with excellent storylines in the background, full of deceit, ruthlessness and passion.

And unfortunately, Monday night has two hours of wrestling on which I miss if I'm learning Spanish. It's the best night for wrestling.

I've got to teach now, but I'll try and infuse some wrestling storylines into my diary from now on.