There they stand in the corner of my anteroom, accusing me.
Yes, my two banjos! On which I never play anymore!
In church two Sundays ago, one of the songs was Amazing Grace, a beautiful song to be sure, but all I could think of was the excellent new title thought up by my friend Ellen on a train in Hunan province: A Grazing Face.
As you can see, I mean hear and see, I'm in DIRE need of a banjo teacher. It all went to hell after my teachers Adam Petrashune (who appears in the video with his superior string skills) and his brother Austin left Hong Kong. This is the one thing in my life I really can't do by myself! Are there any banjo teachers in Palma? Or better, Adam, can you move over here?
Yesterday was an exciting day in the old El Terreno Country Club! The venerable photographer Stuart Pearce came to take photos for - wait for it - my old employer South China Morning Post!
Yes, apparently rumours about my lovely new gaff have swirled through the ether and reached Hong Kong and the lifestyle editor of Sunday Post Magazine. I was so excited - the fact that I had to style the house, which is really just a fancy word for tidy the hell up, only put a mild damper on things. No really, you think you have a tidy shack but when you start looking and thinking about rooms in photographic terms (lifestyle!) you realise it comes up woefully short.
You can't have half-eaten apples on the table, for example. Also, a few days ago I bought a brand-new doggie brush so I would only need to hoover once every day instead of three times, but no. I've been taking about a pillowcase worth of hairs off the two hounds every day, but still the floors look like the back of a ginger gorilla in a Turkish bathhouse, billowing with brown hairs.
As it happens, I was cooking Sichuan food for a birthday party that night, so I only had to tidy up once. Win-win!
The editor wanted me to style the garden as well, so naturally I chose my favourite sit-wear, handmade by the incredible talented Lina Benjumea, to brighten up the mosquito-riddled morass.
OK - no. I'm still not really interested in football. But I have to say this: When I lived in Hong Kong, any given World Cup match was at 2AM if you were lucky, except that wonderful year when the Koreans and Japanese burst upon the scene with their long, glossy black hair and stadium-cleaning, non-hooliganistic fans. Now I can saunter down to a nearby bar like English Pub Sindi's or seven or eight other establishments with full Cup coverage less than five minutes' walk away.
So yes, although it is out, Spain wins hands down.
I admit it, I miss speaking Cantonese every day, but at least I have my students!
When I first arrived on Mallorca in January, I never thought I'd be teaching Cantonese, but modern technology thought otherwise. Skype is now helping me carry out my life's mission: To make Cantonese a world language. The world, quite frankly, deserves it!
But no one can make Cantonese a world language on an empty stomach, so first we must go to 飲茶 - yam cha - "drink tea". Which is all about eating. but also, a little, about tea! So this video is dedicated to my faithful students Ah-Mei (Deborah) Ah-Sai (Simon) Ah-Gong (Tom) Ah-Dak (Peter) Ah-Man (James) and Ah-Fu (Jakab), who are sensibly Learning Cantonese the Natural Way - From a Norwegian!
I'm in heaven! Last week, after a LOT of waiting and filling in of the same form for customs in Madrid twice (people living on Mallorca can't just receive parcels in the post, no, the parcels are held at ransom in Madrid for months and you have to pay extra customs duty even when the parcels come from inside the Schengen zone) I finally got my Norwegian board games Passport and The Big Norwegian Game, both Trivial Pursuit-like. Thank you, good sister Beate who managed to track them down after having gone out of production in 2005!
I immediately got to work and cooked up some snacks, two Sichuan potato cakes, salty and peppery soy beans and sweet potato crisps with a spicy dip. Then I invited a bunch of Swedes, in dire need of comfort after the devastating defeat by England on Saturday, poured the wine and waited.
The Swedes had some problems reading out the questions and we all had problems identifying Oceanian countries like Kiribati (if it still exists - a lot has happened since 2005) but OH!!! So, so fun.
Wanted: Three part-time flatmates who love board games.