Archive | August, 2013

Bo Xilai and the Jets of Power

29 Aug

bo xilaiThe local press over here has been dominated during the past few days by the sensational trial of Bo Xilai – former Chongqing party secretary and charismatic womaniser, whose estranged wife was recently convicted of murdering British business man Neil Heywood.

Whether you believe, as many Chinese do, that Bo was a victim of a vindictive wife and party rivals who didn’t care for his brand of populist Mao 2.0 politics or, as many other Chinese do, that he ran a Mafia-like operation for decades, swindling, extorting, embezzling and intimidating, it doesn’t really matter.

His trial was all for show – a show of power for Xi Jinping and the rest of the new Politburo who are trying to put clear red water between themselves and the previous administration with a well-publicised crack down on Party corruption.

The unfortunate truth for them – neatly suppressed by the Great Firewall and China’s ubiquitous Public Security Bureau – is that for every Bo there are thousands of others. Some are little Bo’s, others are probably Bo-sized in their corruption, but all share his greed, opportunism and insane Hungry Hippo-like grab for power and wealth.

This, to be brutally honest, is what happens when one political party remains in power for over 60 years. Where’s the alternative?

Well, they drove over it with tanks in 1989, or put it under house arrest till it died.

Corruption is so endemic there’s even a story knocking around that it’s the reason why the government refuses to issue any banknotes larger than 100 yuan – because that would make it easier to physically hand over large sums as bribes.

That said, Bo wasn’t the biggest news story of the week for me in China. Oh no.

Hubei’s Chutian City paper had a corker of a story about a young boy who was hurled two metres in the air by one of those annoying multi-coloured fountains that have started appearing in city centres everywhere.

The kid was apparently playing in the fountain when a high pressure jet blasted him into the stratosphere before gravity brought the unfortunate crashing down to earth (concrete) with a bloodied nose.

I for one am hoping this incident is publicised as widely as possible. Not only to stop lazy urban planners across the friggin’ planet from installing these depressing aqua features in public places, but from stopping screaming little shits turning city centres everywhere into de facto chav-infested leisure centres.

hubei fountain

You can just make out the boy flying through the air upside down in this first pic, and there he is all beaten up in the second. Ouch.

Being as this is China, some unscrupulous fountain manufacturing company with little regard for heath and safety has no doubt signed a nationwide deal for  the fucking things after lobbing a sackful of yuan at the right Party cadre.

As Beijing Cream reports, China has previous when it comes to overly aggressive water features.

In 2006 a 19-year-old Henan lassie had her stomach rearranged by an angry water jet, and just a fortnight ago an eight-year-old in Shandong had to undergo emergency surgery after fountain literally ruptured his rectum.

Parents of China take note: if you don’t want your children subjected to an impromptu colonic, keep them well clear.

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Death Noodle is unwell…

21 Aug

toon clubI once read somewhere that the key to being a successful entrepreneur/businessman is to be able to function on very little sleep. All the greats from Jeff Bezos to, er, Alan Sugar kip for barely a few hours, giving them ample time in the day for thinking up brilliant money-making schemes like Amazon and, um, the Amstrad PC?

Being more of an owl than a lark, I always envied these hyperactive, super rich biz folk. However, having chronic jet lag over the past few days has given me a brief snapshot into a) what daybreak looks like fresh-faced rather than at the wrong end of a heavy night in Dalston, b) the limitless possibilities of extra hours in the day. Not that I’ve used them.daft punk

I believe a similar scenario presented itself to my old mum when, in the 1960s, she unwittingly began a lengthy course of prescription amphetamines in order to lose weight. In her own words: “It was great. I stayed up all night studying and was on course for a first, until I hit my room-mate over the head with my tennis racquet and thought it best that I stop taking the Purple Hearts. I got fat and ended up with a 2:1.”

This is a long-winded way of saying I’ve been in the UK for the past fortnight, destroying my already frail body with a succession of stag weekends, weddings and late night parental drinking sessions. The jet-lag will eventually cease, I hope, but these images will remain with me forever:

buckfast

Nothing bad ever starts with a Buckie, does it?

wedding

The morning after the wedding the day before. Somewhere in a field near Glasgow, awright…

collingwood

The man who won Trafalgar. Geordie hero.

newcastle races

Newcastle Races. A LONG way from Happy Valley

newcastle club jukebox

Perfectly judged club-art. Newcastle, of course.