Thursday, November 30, 2006

Getting Married in Lanzhou

I don't normally take requests... but as Magnús asked so nicely so here (to the best of my recollection) is a guide for a British person marrying a Chinese person with a Hukou of Lanzhou.

Clearly the whole business of getting married is the subject of much confusion. To my wife’s family, the part in Lanzhou where we obtained the marriage certificate was a mere formality (and one that most villagers might see as an unnecessary expense) but, clearly to the British Consulate, the fact that we’d had a big banquet whilst dressed in new, red clothes wasn’t quite formal enough.

There is information on the British Embassy website that was of use to me but that seems to have been simplified over the last year. This being China, it would seem likely that the It also wouldn't surprise me if the rules in China didn't change regularly, and for that matter, be interpreted differently by different officials. Amongst the things that we produced (based on warnings posted on various websites) that were not needed were:
  • A set of translations of every single document we had
  • A document from the British Consulate confirming the nationality of my ex-wife
A quick trawl of the web also reveals all sorts of documents that we didn’t need:
To actually get married in the Lanzhou 民政厅 we just needed the following:
  1. Cash: not sure how much but it’s not a huge amount
  2. Photos of the two of us - actually a single, wide photo of the two of us side-by-side. The photo shop in Hangzhou we went into knew what was required. At least three photos (one for the marriage bureau and one for each of the two marriage certificates - you get one each!)
  3. ID: Passport, ID Card, Hukou booklet - you will need photocopies of these so take copies of every page with personal info on it. We didn't and, despite the presence of a photocopier in the room next door to the marriage bureau, we had to go out in the street and find a shop with a photocopier (if you fall foul of this, come out of the Lanzhou marriage bureau building and turn right. There's a little signwriter's just after a small road junction with a photocopier.
  4. Letters of eligibility to marry. YY obtained hers from the PSB office in her home village and it was just a hand written note. I had to obtain mine from the British Consulate in Shanghai (although it would have been doable via a registry office in the UK). The process is slightly complicated that you (just the British Citizen) need to attend the Consulate or Embassy after you have been in China for at least 21 consecutive days, then you need to wait for 21 days before they will issue the certificate (although you may leave China during the 21 days after application). A quick look at the US embassy website implies that this process is peculiar to British law as there’s no mention of waiting for 21 days.
What you need to apply in the British Consulate (it would seem likely to be similar at
other consulates) is:
  • Your full name and place of residence.
  • Your partner's full name and address in English.
  • Chinese partner's name and full address in Chinese characters.
  • Details of your marital status, i.e. bachelor / spinster / divorced.
  • If you have been previously married or you are a widower, we need to see an original divorce decree or death certificate.
This will clearly be different if you apply in your home country and, unlike the consulate, they won’t produce a version of the certificate in Chinese so you will need to take the certificate you your local Chinese embassy or consulate for translation and notarisation.

With all of that, there’s not really much to it. Fill in a form or two when you’re there, wait in a soulless little grey office and then without any ceremony of any sort, you get your marriage certificates and your done. Seems very matter-of-fact for such an important life event.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Correct Answer

(note: to prevent any confusion - this post is referring to my car. Sorry History Elephant...)

5. There's something wrong with the air intake which, thankfully, took 15 minutes to diagnose and fix.

Kangaroo Tucson

Q: When is a Hyundai Tucson not a Hyundai Tucson?

A: When it's a kangaroo.

Firstly, however, the important news... YY and Frankie continue to do well. YY's struggling a bit now the anaesthetic is all out of her system but is making good progress. Poor little Frankie got bitten by her first mosquito yesterday but is still a lovely little thing. I am finding it to be difficult to be as happy as I thought I would be simply because YY is in a lot of pain at times.

Last night the car decided that it wanted to impersonate a kangaroo and hop away every time it started off from stationary. Aside from the unpleasant feeling it leaves in the stomach, it seemed likely that this was a precursor to something worse.

Research on the web came up with nothing for kangarooing automatic cars. I have so far assumed that likely problems are:

1. Low quality fuel

2. Clutch problem

3. Gearbox problem

I have just arrived at the car dealer where I bought the car where I have been presented with a new option:

4. I'm an idiot and can't drive an automatic

Now, I might have accepted this were it not the fact that I was perfectly capable of driving an automatic yesterday morning and at all other times over the course of the preceeding year and don't believe that I simply forgot last night.

Fuel quality doesn't seem that likely to me as I drove about 200km since I refuelled on Friday without incident and adding more fuel seems pointless as I still have half a tank.

The idea of breaking down with Frankie in the back in the increasingly cold weather (down to 10 degrees C yesterday) seems an extremely unpleasant one.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Signing Off

Well, what a day. I'm back at home and YY and Francesca are settling in for the night in the hospital.

I'm afraid Blogger turned out to be a fairly useless product for live blogging from a Blackberry and I'm a bit disappointed that this entry (done through the Blogger interface) will appear long before the last three or four entries that I emailed to Blogger.

Suffice to say that Francesca was born in good health by Caesarian section. YY eventually was returned from the Operating Room and appears in good health and good spirits, albeit absolutely knackered and with no feeling in her legs.

Thanks for the well wishes received thus far and apologies to anyone who didn't get an email or a text thus far.

We Are 3!

At last, YY is back, Francesca is where she should be and we are one, small happy family.

At times like this life really is sweet.

She's Still Not Back

It's 3 hours since she went for the op but YY hasn't yet returned. A doctor has, thankfully, appeared and said everything's OK but I'll be only able to relax when I can see her for myself.

Our daughter (see pics on Flickr) has barely stopped crying since she turned up an hour or so ago. Hopefully that's not an omen for the future.

It's a Girl!

So much for ultrasound.

8 pounds 2 ounces.

Information Vacuum

8pm and all's, er, well I have no idea. We have no information at all.

No, Really

There's going to be a big groove in the floor before much longer! 7.30pm and no sign.

The suspense is killing me

And The She Was Gone. Again.

Done properly this time.


And Then She Was Back!

No sooner had I finished my previous lament then she was back. No, I'm not that slow a typer, she was kicked off the operating table to make room for an emergency. Apparently the other person was screaming the place down so it was probably a good call.

Not that I'm complaining. At least I can do it properly next time.

FYI, it has just turned 6pm here. The date and time on the entries are not this timezone but, presumably that of Blogspot HQ, in turn presumably in California.

And Then She Was Gone

Heartless bastards.

I had nipped to the loo only to find YY on a trolley being wheeled away. I managed to catch up with her just as the lift doors were closing only for the nurse who had wheeled her in to block our (me and YW, YY's sister) and say "You can't come". And the doors closed completely.

I didn't manage a "Good Luck", "be brave" or an "I love you" before she went. For such an important life event, the 'lack of care for the feelings of the others' that is often shown in China really sucks.

Damned French Fries

The doctor has just been in and said that YY can do the operation now but... The OR was booked for 2.30 and now they're all full.

Time ticks by. YY has suggested that to avoid me getting too tired, I should go home now and come back and see my child tomorrow. In this respect, there should be a picture of her in the dictionary under the definition of 'stoic'.

The same can't be said of her stomach, the emptiness of which is troubling her to the point of distraction. I swear that the Chinese could have taken over the world centuries ago if they didn't have to stop every 6 hours for a hot, cooked meal.

Still Waiting

One similarity of hospitals everywhere I guess. They tell you a time. You wait until that time and then. Nothing.

Monday, November 27, 2006


Argh. YY managed to steal two French Fries, unbeknown to anyone else, but has just admitted it to the nurse. To be safe, they're delaying the op until 4pm (now 2:30).

Contractions are increasing in frequency and intensity so its happening today one way or the other!

What is it about eating and anaesthesia? Is it just the risk of puking or does the anaestetic actually affect the anaesthesia? Is it the same for all anaesthesia (I can imagine it might have an effect for gaseous anaesthetic, but an epidural?)


OK, now we're in ECG while YY gets a pre-operative check.

As with many administrative functions in institutions throughout China we're waiting for the one working operative to come free. Of the other 5 staff members present, 2 are fiddling with a computer, one is sending text messages and the other two are braiding each other's hair. The idea that time has a value has yet to come to China!

Well, not quite

Back at the hospital and YY's been tested for allergy to the epidural anaesthetic and is just waiting, witing, waiting.

Of course, as lunchtime rolled by she fully engaged the Pavlovian reflex of so many here and became absolutely starving - a problem which is now 'worse than the pain of the contractions'.

I'm told that there's no chance I'll be allowed to attend the C-section, which is a bit irritating, but she's perfectly happy with that so I don't want to force the issue and cause her any more stress. I will, of course, be on tenterhooks if anything seems to going wrong and noone tells me anything or, worse, as I can't see what's going on if people babble excitedly in Chinese so I can't understand what they're saying.

Nearly there

Well, actually I'm in KFC at time of writing getting some sustinance for the events to come. After numerous tests, a Caesarian section has been scheduled for 2.30pm local time. It's getting quite exciting!

Babywatch T+3

Well, the book (Pregnancy for Dummies - we're a bit short of English language bookshops here) warned it's not necessarily a sudden and obvious process.

The floodgates haven't opened, she hasn't given birth in the car on the way to the hospital but, it looks like things are moving. Having no frame of reference we've been relying on the "How to tell if it's false labour" section and it doesn't seem like it is. So we're in the waiting room now.

As Chinese hospitals don't ban the use of mobile phones (the doctors all use them) some degree of 'live blogging' may occur.

Thanks to the wonders of the lovely Nokia N73 and Flickr, I can upload directly into Flickr from my phone. Any photos will be accessible via the Flickr link on the right hand side of the blog. The Flickr badge shows the last 3 photos I uploaded so if you see pictures of a baby that's probably good news!

Unless this is false labour in which case I'll be back at work shortly...

Babywatch T+2

Well, this is proving to be a bit of a damp squib...

It's 2 days past the due date and all is well but, still no sign of a baby. Whilst it's a bit anticlimactic, I guess I should be grateful that I've already had 2 more nights of decent sleep than I anticipated.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

New Ayi, New Danger

Xiao Hu, for all her faults, had one saving grace for me, in that she had her own home so for more than 12 hours every day, she wasn't in mine.

Zhou Ayi, on the other hand, doesn't. She's moved into our spare room/nursery - only for the next 6 weeks or so until we've established a routine as, frankly, I know as much about baby rearing as one would be know about how to disassemble and reassemble a Mark III Cortina having read the Haynes* manual and I'm not sure YY knows much more.

Now, I normally find cooking to be quite a pleasurable experience. Starting from recipe and ingredient selection, preparation, cooking, eating (of course) and then clearing up. Unfortunately it very rarely works like that here. I don't think people have the same concept of cooking for the sake of cooking any more than people understand that I like going cycling for its own sake, rather than because I'm at point a and need to get to point b.

If ever I try to cook (which hasn't been that often as the kitchen setup makes it fairly unenjoyable) then I always get offers of 'help' from the ayi. Fending off offers of help with whatever I'm doing just leads to her getting on with something else (ok, you don't want me to chop the veg, I'll wash up the implements that you've used...) rather than simply going away.

This morning was the first time this has happened to me over breakfast and, whilst it's a fairly simple affair, breakfast has more significance to me in that it really is my 'me time'. I potter about the flat, 5 days a week, from 6 o'clock on. Sometimes leaving for work at 6:45, sometimes not until 8. Sometimes YY will get up, other times not. It's all good.

This morning I was faced with Zhou Ayi and her determination to 'help me' by trying to wrestle me away from my simmering oats and not-quite warmed up espresso machine. We settled on a draw in that she made the coffee and I carried on the oats to completion, but inside I know I lost.

I hope she's going to be kept occupied when the baby comes because I don't want to go through this battle every morning. I think whatever I do, I'm going to end up losing face because cookery, after all, isn't "a man's work".

*Actually - the Haynes manual crack isn't as silly as it sounds as looking for the hyperlink I see there is a Haynes manual for baby rearing...

Babywatch. T+1

Still nothing.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Babywatch T-0

The countdown today reached zero. Nothing happened. More news live, as it happens.

Who Ate All The Pies?

I spotted an article in the BBC News Magazine the other day about the use of the BMI measurement to determine people's status about whether they are; underweight, normal, overweight or obese.

The reporter found some 'men on the street' who were on the fat side and weighed them. Most were 'surprised' to learn that they were obese and gave a series of tired old excuses that they were either 'a good size for their height' or 'big boned' or the old chestnut 'well, muscle's heavier than fat'. All this is, of course, rubbish. Even scarier, there were a number of reader comments backing up these claims and saying that the men looked just fine.

Its not really a surprise to me. As I've mentioned before, as I'm sure others have, when you live in China and return home to the UK everyone (ok, not everyone - there are a large number of shapely Eastern European immigrants) appears enormous.

If the survey is anything to go by, the main problem with obesity in the UK is that people are accustomed to flab. Everyone else is fat so you don't feel fat and convince yourself that the scales are misleading and the BMI scale inapplicable.

This is, clearly, a particularly vicious circle. As people get fatter, fatness becomes more socially acceptable so the pressure to lose weight fades. And the queues at the diabetes clinics get longer and longer.

In order to lose weight, I can recommend a low carb, calorie controlled diet with lots of excercise.

In order to get it into your head that you're not actually 'a good size' but are, in fact, 'fat as a pig' I recommend you move to China.

However, you'd better hurry. Globalisation brings with it KFC, McDonalds and Pizza Hut and a correspondingly high carb diet. Its only a matter of time before "Fat Camp for Kids" starts screening here.

Fortunately I got here just in time. Today marks a loss of 40kg since this time last year. With a BMI of 25.9 I have 4kg to go to reach the top end of a 'normal' weight. It's notable that people here are just beginning to say 'You should stop losing weight or you'll look too thin'. When I was 16kg heavier in July, people in the UK were saying the same thing.

Friday, November 24, 2006

An Ayi for an Ayi

Today I came home to find Zhou Ayi settling in to the spare room which was a bit of a surprise.

Xiao Hu has been with us for about 2 years now. She is somewhat bereft of common sense but has, over the years, picked up the ability to cook Chili-con-carne, Spag Bol, Chicken Tikka Masala and Fajitas which, at the end of the day, has stopped us replacing her until now.

Unfortunately for Xiao Hu, we don't have faith in her child rearing skills to want to let her loose with the new baby. I don't know what she knows about babies but as I only just learnt that her daughter, who is 15 now, has been living in a flat on her own in Sichuan province, 1000 miles away, since Xiao Hu moved to Hangzhou 3 years ago, her childcare skills are in doubt.

Ayis, like imortals, seem to follow 'there can be only one' maxim. I'm sitting typing this in the living room while one hovers in and out of the spare room and the other in and out of the kitchen. If they think about coming out at the same time they repel like magnets. The tension is palpable.

As the time drew close, I'm kind of reluctant to let Xiao Hu go but I can't live with this tension for long. Hopefully the handover will be smooth and swift.

Extreme Water

James Randi's website contains a lovely critique of Xooma X2O extreme water. I couldn't help noticing that, as Mr Randi points out, the list of elements includes Cadmium and Thallium:

Cadmium, according to Wikipedia: "has no constructive purpose in the human body. This element and solutions of its compounds are toxic even in low concentrations, and will bioaccumulate in organisms and ecosystems."

Thallium. In the news a lot lately as a suspect in the the recent poisoning in the UK of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko. According to the venerable BBC Thallium can "...attack the nervous system and internal organs... also cause hair loss, vomiting, and diarrhoea."

A Xooma website (Xooma does very much appear as a 'get rich quick from home' kinda organisation so pinning down the real home of Xooma isn't that straight forward) says their product has these qualities:
  • Cleanse the kidneys, intestines, and liver
  • Protect your body from free radical cell damage
I can't help thinking that there's something a bit odd about the marketing strategy for a product that lists two known toxins in the ingredients list for a health product. OK, I'm sure lots of products contain all sorts of toxins in tiny amounts that can't be eliminated, much like the fact that many products contain insect parts which are virtually impossible to eliminate. The key difference is you don't see "contains 36 insect parts per 100g" as part of the advertising!

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Oh dear. I fear my child will be in line for footwear trouble in future life...

YY had a scan yesterday during which the doctor said that the baby's feet seemed unusually long. As I'm no stranger to this phenomenon myself (taking a UK 14/US 15/Eur 49.5 shoe) this should probably not be a surprise but as YY takes a Eur 36 I was hoping my child would be spared the pain of not being able to find shoes.

It's bad enough in the UK where you're considered a freak if you go over a size 11 but in China, where most of my shoes are manufactured, it is virtually impossible. As reported in the local newspaper, a local Nike goods distributors said "Why would be stock anything over a size 47 when there's no market for the shoes".

The doc refused to comment this time on whether it was a boy or girl so we are still in limbo. Anyway, we expect to know for sure within the week as the due date is only 2 days away!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Blogspot Unblocked?

From my site statistics, it looks like access to blogspot blogs has been unblocked, again.

I wish they'd make up their damned minds at the "Great Firewall" HQ as I've just shelled out the money for 12 months web hosting to move my blog away from ''

Monday, November 20, 2006


There was a thread of this title on the, now late-lamented, TalkTalkChina. In it people reeled off tales of terrible toilets (of which China has many). God knows, the public toilets in our building are particularly rank and malodorous.

When my boss visited China, one of the best things to happen was for him to see the public toilets "swimming with piss" (his words) and to let me build some private toilets for our company. Our toilets have cleanliness, translucent windows rather than transparent, aircon, hot water and soap to wash your hands with, and paper towels. The public loos have none of these.

I had thought the public loos were typically fairly bad - there is at least one guy on our floor (not one of ours) - I don't know why he bothers even standing in front of the urinal because he then proceeds to unload directly onto the floor so that it runs backwards between his feet (nice slope for drainage) all the way across the room and into the floor drain.

Faced with that, it's hard to imagine that things could get much worse but... They're refurbishing the toilets at the moment and this weekend they were on our floor replacing the pipework in the ceiling of our toilets that serve the floor above. You might imagine that they'd have drained said pipework before they started but...

I've just popped into the loos on the floor below ours and went quickly through "wow, the stench is worse than normal", "how can anyone pee onto the top of the urinal?", "hang on, there's pee on top of all the urinals", "uh-oh - it's not just pee".

Looking up at the ceiling all I could see were hundreds of liquid droplets, all poised to fall. One has never finished one's business so hurriedly...

If there's an outbreak of Cholera on the second floor, at least we'll know why.

Cool School Transport

How cool would it be to have gone to school like this! You even get to do your homework on the way!

School Bus

Friday, November 17, 2006


Life. Don't talk to me about Life. Here I am, brain the size of a planet and they ask me to insert pretty much anything I had to do this week with regard to work. Call that job satisfaction? 'Cause I don't."

Everything, and I mean everything, is a bit nuts at the moment - hence the lack of posting this last month.

1) Work - I'm sure it's not an actual conspiracy but, I'm short-handed in the world of management at the moment so the wierdest combination of events has inevitably transpired in a time-sucking, head-in-hands kind of way. Managing a company in China really can seem like herding cats at times.

2) Apartment - Fitout of my apartment is pressing on. I'm not on top of it as I'd like and, given the expense, I'm conscious that if doesn't end up how I'd like it I'm going to be very unhappy. The few visits I've made to my apartment aren't particularly helpful because the work that's going on is so chaotic, I've no idea how it's going to end up. For example, witness my living room from a couple of weeks ago. If you count carefully, there are 8 people just in this room!


3) Baby! In theory there's just over a week to go! It still seems unreal that I'm going to be a dad in just over a week (or a couple of hours - the uncertainty adds to the excitement). We're accumulating a large number of baby items that only time will tell whether they are, or are not, useful - no thanks to "The ultimate shopping experience for new and expectant parents" as they style themselves, who have singularly failed to impress me in any way with their approach to getting the stuff I've already paid for from the UK to China.

4) The car has transpired to go a bit wonky - slight problem with the steering which thankfully has been fixed now and only stole half a day of my time. Driving continues to be a slow and frustrating experience, such as the picture below - one of the cars up ahead has dinged the bumper of another so we sit, and sit, and sit, until the policeman (pictured, thankfully) releases the scene.


5) My Neighbours are definitely conspiring to deny me a satisfying night's sleep at the weekends. It's Saturday and I'd like just a little bit more sleep than usual, but no. The apartment above mine actually houses a company which supplies greeters, girls that stand by the door of shops and events wearing a qipao. This morning at about 6:30 a gaggle of greeters arrived and proceeded to run back and forth across our bedroom ceiling wearing high-heeled shoes. Going and complaining gave us about 5 minutes of respite before they started again...

6) I've just been accepted to an Executive MBA programme, which is fantastic but does mean from January I'll have less spare moments than ever! There will be more on this later, I'm sure.

7) Fitness regime continues. I am, again, lighter today than any day in the last 20 years. I'm working with a personal trainer at the gym, getting out on my new road bike at least twice a week (although winter is fast approaching...) and managed to run 2 miles in 20 mins twice this week. Whilst not a huge feat for a vast number of people, I'm really not convinced that I have ever run that far, that fast. If proof were needed that I've pushed myself further than ever I had, what I realised (unfortunately - did take the edge off it a bit) that I was experiencing a state of euphoria shortly after the first run. Still - 38kg down, 5.9kg to go!

8) Blogspot has been blocked again (surely it can't all be the fault of Chinabounder) so I'm in the process of setting up Ambling Sheep as its own site and off of Blogspot. Apologies to anyone trying to go to as there will be a brief delay as my chosen hosting service neglected to mention that in order to set up, they had to post you an activation code. Seems a bit mad to me that an internet company has to send a piece of paper half way round the world before they can give me service! I'll look forward to hours trying to get that to work.

Sorry for the long "What I did in the last two weeks" diary entry - it seemed more interesting in my head. Normal service at some point...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

First Night

As you know, JP was hit by a bus. Fortunately (!) it was right outside our office so people at our company knew about it straight away.

Apparently the ambulance was delayed getting to the scene enabling journalists to arrive there first. This, obviously, made the Hangzhou Bus Company very nervous because they committed to having someone from their company present at the hospital at all times and to foot the bill for any treatment.

JP did go to the Tongde hospital where (contrary to the newspaper article) he did not undergo surgery, only a CT scan, and was rapidly moved to the Zhejiang #2 Hospital which is larger and apparently where the Bus Company send all their top officials. By the time I got there, they were going to take him for a new CT scan.

So, we went with him (on a trolley, his head and hands covered in blood) to the CT room which involved going up two floors in a lift. Which stopped 2 inches higher than the floor so thud went the trolley and 'Ow!' went JP. Bizarrely we then had to go down a steep ramp and hope JP wouldn't slide off the trolley.

In the CT scan room, there was one attendant who told us that we'd have to move him onto the CT machine ourselves as he couldn't do it so, trained IT staff and bus company officials that we were, we carried out the move. As they'd installed a drip (it's a default reaction in Chinese hospitals - you've got an injury, they put you on a drip - you've got a cold, they put you on a drip - etc.) they just left one of our staff in the room holding the bottle and ran away themselves to avoid the x-rays.

The really exciting part happened when the results came back and the neurosurgeon came to review them. He said "There's definitely bleeding in the skull and contusion to the brain which is causing swelling. It might be best to wait a few hours and repeat the CT but there is a risk if the bleeding continues. Alternatively it might be best to operate now to relieve the pressure but there's obviously risks associated with operating on his brain. What do you want me to do?"

The straightforwardness of that question simply stunned me. So, the consultant neurosurgeon says "It might be a good idea to operate, or it might be a good idea to wait" and then says we (a bunch of his colleagues) are expected to make the decision, without him expressing any opinion as to which way this should go. We protest that a) we're not his family, so it's not our decision to make, b) we're a bunch of IT people and aren't equipped to make that decision and would expect him as a brain surgeon to make a recommendation.

He refused, several more times, to even hint as to which direction the decision should go. JY, a Chinese colleague explained that obviously this is a terrible dilemma and we shouldn't be in this position, but the neurosurgeon is in fear of his career because the press already knew about this 'story' so if anything went wrong his career could be over. I explained that in my opinion, if the Neurosurgeon wouldn't make a recommendation, I believe that, in itself, would be an act of gross negligence on his part.

Fortunately we had a backup plan - what a wonderful investment the insurance was. We were very quickly put in touch with a Dr. Vargus based in Beijing and were able to photograph the CT scans which I emailed to Dr. V.

It was a breath fresh air to get the call saying "I've reviewed the CT scans and there's no need to operate immediately - wait and get another CT done in the morning" - not only was it the voice of common sense (accepting responsibility for the decision) but also the result we were hoping for as we still hadn't tracked down any of JP's family by that point.

My biggest question in all this is, if this happened to me, and if I was in some random part of the city where my family and colleagues didn't know I'd been injured, would the bus company officials be the ones making the "Should we operate or not?" decision and, more worryingly, would they actually do so?

JP is Back!

To everyone's relief, JP is back in the UK and even back at work (in case you don't know what I'm talking about, read this first).

I have refrained up to this point for blogging more about what was happening as:
a) The outcome wasn't clear so it all seemed rather morbid
b) Friends of JP read my blog and what I had to say would probably have worried them silly
c) I wasn't clear whether JP would be happy with me writing about him in such detail

Happily, now he's back and has said "Write what you like" then I shall. More shortly.

Wednesday Night Madness

I understand the spirit of sharing that must exist in remote country villages - that whole 'everyone knows everyone else, no-one locks their doors, look out for each other thing' - I'm sure that works very well in the village itself. Unfortunately, again, another madcap situation has just arisen from this thinking.

Remember that YY is 3 weeks away from her due date and is massively pregnant (she's only little and that she's gained 25% in mass over the last 8 months). This was known by the man who just rang us from her home village in Gansu province but he obviously thinks the request he made of YY to be perfectly reasonable.

Tibetan Mastiff
Originally uploaded by o2ma.

His plan is to go from Gansu to Tibet to buy two Tibetan Mastiffs. According to Wikipedia they are one of the largest dogs and can weigh up to 200 pounds (although one hopes his plan would be to buy puppies).

From Tibet he will come to Hangzhou where he is trying to invoke 'village privileges' on getting YY to help him out. Not only does he want us to put him up for an unspecified period, he wants us to put up the two Tibetan Mastiffs, in our apartment. Then he would like YY to go with him to a variety of places where he might sell the dogs.

Obviously it's not happening but if anyone has any suggestions as to how to decline in such a way as to stop him talking trash about us back in the village (where her family still live) gratefully received.