Teaching English Abroad: THE HOW TO VIDEO

After a constant influx of questions surrounding teaching English abroad and all that jazz, I decided at long last to make a brief(ish) and pretty basic video surrounding the subject…I realised as I was doing it that I shouldn’t go too far into detail as it would be a few hours long…so this really is the bare bones.

Here I talk about where you can teach English, the best sites on which to find jobs, and a couple of my own experiences surrounding the field. Will probably do a couple of more detailed videos if people seem interested!

Any questions just get in touch! 

Oh, and if you have a video request you can leave a comment, or send me an email – if it’s a cool/interesting idea then I will get to it as soon as I can!

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How to (Pretend) to be a Human.

I just read through, well attempted to read through – an entire list of things that make up what it means to be the ‘Modern Man’.

Well it should go without saying that it made me violently sick…after all, lists of that kind can only ever be restrictive and judgmental…sort of like; “this is the way you should do things and if you do anything else then you are a massive knob head who no one could possibly ever love.” That’s all I hear anyway – there’s just something off about it, something not quite right. I don’t get why people believe there is a fixed way to behave; what a drearily dull place it would be if we were all just dragging ourselves around humming the same tune and exchanging pleasantries until one day we are in the ground.

Which is why I am creating my own set of principles in which we can all live by as semi-functioning humans…I know, I know – there’s a glaring hypocrisy in all of this, but think of it like religion: mine is completely 100% correct, and all others are a steaming pile of shit. Hmm…did I just compare myself to Jesus? Well, perhaps. That’s for you to decide, although I don’t have a beard which may be a drawback…every good messiah needs a beard. Dammit. Fell at the first hurdle…urgh – but still yes, listen to what I have to say (please). 

ANYWAY. So,  every good human needs to keep a few things in mind as they go about their business otherwise he/she will likely be burned at the stake or cast out into the wilderness and banished from the office kingdom. Thankfully I have the scoop on what these criteria are, so you have no reason to worry. The chances of the aforementioned happening to you are now a lot slimmer*…you’re welcome. 

1.) Every human needs to be able to pretend to be a “Good Loser” – (whatever that is…)

Good Job GIF

Remember that life is about loss – we lose our child-like fascination, we lose our hope, we lose our hair, and then we lose our marbles…so you sure as hell better get used to losing. Consequently mastering sentences such as “Oh that’s great.”, “I’m so happy for you.”, or “You are absolutely amazing!” when you lose, or someone else achieves something, is vital for your survival…bonus points are awarded if you do it without a sarcastic tone or aggressive bestial snarl…advanced humans will also master the art of refraining from puncturing the winner’s tires, or throwing a brick through their window (although it is understood this is rather difficult to avoid at times). 

2.) Every human needs to pretend to only have community-approved obsessions:

Weirdo GIF

For some unknown reason some obsessions are deemed okay, and others are thought of as psychopathic…and often verge on the criminal side of things. For example if you announce you are “obsessed” with Game of Thrones, or with collecting fridge magnets – you may be thought of as pretty typical, or at worst quirky. However if you were to cheerfully let people know that you like catching, skinning and disemboweling vermin around your city, and occasionally attempt botched  Frankenstien-esque experiments on them…you are suddenly branded as a “weirdo”. It’s a strange world, and one I don’t particularly understand – but sadly that’s reality: some obsessions are okay, and some aren’t. You can check if your obsession is regarded as peculiar by practicing on strangers in the street…just walk up and let them know – if they run away as soon as you start talking, then it’s probably best to keep that one to yourself.

3.) Every human should pretend the internet is a bad thing:

Hate Computers GIF

This is one that baffles researchers everywhere but again appears to be a trend that cannot be shaken…despite the clear evidence that the internet is absolutely fantastic, most humans enjoy divulging the conclusion that they hate Facebook, or that they are sick of Twitter, or that Wikipedia is awful…usually this is told across some form of social media which only creates even more confusion. So even though you likely spend a tremendous deal of time watching great YouTube videos, or you learn something new everyday thanks to Google, or you never have to leave the house to buy stuff because of a whole host of online stores…it is best that you claim everything to the contrary. The most typical lines are; “I hate Instagram – why do I want to see people’s food? I don’t care if they starve or not.”, “I absolutely hate getting music for free, why can’t we just pay for the album which only has one good song on, like the good old days?!” and my personal favourite – “if it wasn’t for the internet, I would have written 400 best selling novels by now!” 

4.) Every human should pretend they never ever see difference, because no one is different:

Copy GIF

Yes we look different, yes we live in different places, yes we have been brought up in different cultures, yes we speak different languages, and yes we are blatantly different…but listen to me clearly; we are not different. Say it with me…“WE ARE NOT DIFFERENT.” Well done, great job – now say it with a more confident tone, you don’t sound like you believe it.

And you must, it is paramount to every human remaining in good favor. To suggest otherwise is to face the firing squad. Even if you embrace difference as a clear positive thing, in which we can all come together as a global community and learn from one another – you are still considered to be an enormous prick who doesn’t deserve friends. You are boxing people in, and it’s rude to put people in boxes (it’s cramped and there is poor lighting). 

5.) Every human should pretend their current job was always their dream job:

Ken GIF

Do you remember when you were a lot younger and you dreamed of the adult days which would be whiled away without rules, and limitations…where every day would be filled with aspirations waiting to be met, and ambitions waiting to be embraced…where you would spend the morning eating your weight in bacon, but still looking amazing, and then spend the afternoon rapping your latest hot single to thousands of adoring fans…possibly in the evening you may fit in a stand up show if you can be bothered to drag yourself away from your hot tub…yeah? Sounds great, right!?

WELL NO IT DOES NOT – THAT WAS A TRICK QUESTION, IT SOUNDS DREADFUL.

What you actually find as you grow from a smaller more positive human to a larger and more miserable version of a human, is that all of that was an illusion and you didn’t ever want it in the first place; and that coincidentally what you really wanted was to take calls from angry old ladies, get screamed at by a moron boss, and spend every morning weeping. So please at least pretend to tow the line…keep it on the low if you are doing anything that brings colour to your life, and certainly don’t openly wish for something more…apart from winning the lottery, people are allowed to do that apparently…

Done GIF

So there you have it, you are looking more like a regular human already! I can sense the dissatisfaction in your attitude, the redness in your eyes, and the look of desperation in your furrowed brow! Great job! Go forth and repress yourself!

*you could still be burned at the stake, sent out in exile, or find yourself friend-less – Storytime with John offers no guarantees. 

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Please buy my collection of stories! Get it in paperback here – or on Kindle here! ALL proceeds go towards Macmillan Cancer Support!

Can I Retire?

At my gym* there are a whole load of elderly people…how many exactly I’m not sure – but if I was to estimate I’d say approximately three nursing home’s worth. They’re all quite nice and friendly; I nod – they nod, that sort of thing…or perhaps they say something and I reply with a middle of the road chuckle hoping whatever they said was a joke. In reality they could be saying anything and I wouldn’t have much of a clue; “please help me wipe”, “give me your blood”, “get out of here before I club you to death with this dumbbell”…but despite these possibilities I choose to believe they’re just being nice – I mean most people are most of the time, right?

*N.B. See how I just subtly slipped in that I attend a gym (as of two weeks ago)? Already patting myself on the back in a smug self-congratulatory manner, deluding myself that it’s already working wonders…give it another month and I’ll be eating left over pizza in the morning whilst lounging in stretchy pants – that I can promise. 

Pizza GIF

Anyway being with my beloved silver fox squad every morning has me dwelling on our shockingly finite life (in between sets of course!) The way time seems to fly in a very “errrr what the hell happened?! sort of way…I mean put it this way I feel it was just yesterday that my evenings revolved around riding bikes and throwing rocks at things. But that was actually last week! Crazy, ey?!

I actually recall being envious of my grandfather’s life as a kid…largely because he would rub it in my face:

“oh, what have you been up to? Just school? Sounds fun, not like my boring day; woke up, took the dog for a walk, bacon sandwich, played pool, couple of pints, watched the game, then had a massive dinner. What a terrible life, can’t stand it…wish I was at school…wish I had homework, and exams…” 

Sure ya do Granda, sure ya do. But despite the fact he was just trying to wind me up (and succeeding) – it still made me make parallels which often led to the bold announcement: “I can’t wait to be old.”

Old GIF

Just think…a kid! Wishing away his whole life! I see how misguided such an exclamation was now, but at the time I saw nothing wrong with it at all. In fact I thought the discovery was groundbreaking in some way, so much so I remember rushing to tell my own father my new found goal. He wasn’t too pleased. In fact he thought it was bloody stupid, and there may have been a slap to the back of the head in an attempt to knock some sense into my dumb skull. Well if there wasn’t there should have been. It may have helped, who knows?

Anyway it’s little flashbacks and epiphanies like this that help bring a sort of understanding to life, and with that more clarity. Because the reality is not much has changed as I still compare myself to others (“by this age this comedian was doing this…by this age he had written this…by this age she was starring in this” and so on, and so on)…

And I also still live in different time zones…by which I don’t mean Asia/UK, I mean the past and the future, dwelling on what was, and what will be rather than living in the moment that is actually happening now – the moment that I can actually touch, and can actually shape.

Clay Making GIF

But we should try to fight against limiting ways of thinking like this. 

I mean sure, days spent eating bacon sandwiches and walking the dog sounds great, and I eagerly await that don’t get me wrong – but that doesn’t mean not making the most of each and every day right nowwe can actually make things happen. So let’s at least try.

So yeah, okay I’ll lead by example, I have to go…I’m going to give blood, run a marathon, and finally finish my novel…well if not today then there’s always tomorrow…or the next day…or the next day…or the next…or…

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Please buy my collection of stories! Get it in paperback here – or on Kindle here! ALL proceeds go towards Macmillan Cancer Support!

Cockroach Crisis

How are you supposed to deal with an incoming attack?! Probably not kicking and screaming? Well…yeah sure…that actually makes sense.

Listen…I know I am technically a grown man and all that kind of jazz (I’m not but the government forms tell me I am)…but cockroaches freak me out. Am I the only one? I mean we don’t have them in England to my knowledge…so perhaps that’s it.

But anyway, listen to this story, and let me know what I should have done…did I react in the right kind of way? Did I make the next Dexter? You decide…

If you have a video request you can leave a comment, or send me an email – if it’s a cool/interesting idea then I will get to it as soon as I can!

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Please buy my collection of stories! Get it in paperback here – or on Kindle here! ALL proceeds go towards Macmillan Cancer Support!

Fight Club

I would like to think I am a lover, and not a fighter…after all, usually physical conflict doesn’t really solve much when you think about it. Obviously some people make it very tempting, but more often than not, non-peaceful ways to shut them the hell up, are somewhat frowned upon!  Naturally if your dear old Granny was being mobbed by a set of escaped rampant ostriches, you’re probably okay to get the broom out. But in most cases, you’re just likely to get yourself into trouble…

But I was forced to think about this by a guy today – and thanks to his inane question regarding the matter, I’ve been mulling over past bouts ever since…

I only really had one big proper fight at school – which is quite a feat as I went to an all-boys secondary in the North-East of England – not sure how I escaped, I guess I was very good at running away. Anyway, I used to be very embarrassed about its living memory – but now that I look back on it, it was a pretty funny situation, and one which I should have laughed off immediately – rather than getting all defensive about;  you know – blushing, and shrugging whenever anyone asked me about it.

Godfather GIF

But back then I lived even deeper in my thoughts than I do now, I didn’t express much, apart from between my nearest, and dearest – stifled by shame, self-consciousness, and a bitter embarrassment regarding just about everything (like, literally.) So this is the first time I’ve told the story to a larger audience…so please bear with me…

It all started on an unassuming school day. I was with my friends on the smaller courtyard, where you could largely avoid the manic hustle, and bustle of the main schoolyard – by which I mean footballs being blasted off your face at every juncture, and/or birds shitting on you in passing, as they scrabbled for the scraps of leftover sandwiches.

That’s not to say it was totally peaceful where we spent our break-times. It was still basically a war-zone…

Explosion GIF

Unwanted oranges, apples, and bananas (note: no chocolate was ever thrown) would fly from one end to the other – accompanied with blood-curdling cries, and bellowing swear word strewn sentences, that would even make Vinnie Jones wince.

On the day in question, it appeared to be particularly heated – and the various food items were flying with an increased ferocity. We huddled together, my friends and I, attempting to dip, and dodge any incoming missiles – before scraping them off the floor, and hurling them back. You could only pause momentarily to laugh, should it hit your target – because luxuriate in giggling for too long, and you can be sure that the dirtied tangerine segment would be SPLAT , back in your face!

Food Fight GIF

So it was quite a surprise when I was told that one of our sworn enemies (that day), now wanted to fight me…something about I had thrown a sloppy banana right off his forehead, and for whatever reason he wasn’t too fond of that fact. I didn’t even know who he was…so they pointed him out…of course, yup – just my luck – he was taller, and about four people wider than me. My friends didn’t care, the occasion had pumped them full of testosterone, and all of a sudden they wanted to see blood. A couple of them ran off to tell him I was up for it, as the others tried to make it seem like a great idea:

“He’s a year younger, man…he’s not even THAT big…well okay, he is…but you know – you throw like one punch, and then we all join in – then it’s like seven versus one! No worries  – YOU HAVE TO NOW!” 

NO! I wasn’t going to do it! No…but how to plot my escape out of this situation – could always go out the side-door, yeah…I began to walk away, with several friends still trying to convince me that it was a great idea – I wasn’t having any of it – “FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!” Someone randomly screamed to my complete horror, and disbelief – before I knew it a crowd had circled in, barring my way out – and there he was, this massive entity. There was no way out of this, I’d never live it down if I ran now…or perhaps I could fake a heart attack…nah, that’s be even worse probably. It was time to face the music. I turned to my fantastic friends, who had basically orchestrated this whole thing – the excitement level for them was clearly off the charts – on the other hand, I was so scared I felt like I may literally shit my pants.

Bloodthirsty GIF

I looked at my foe – clearly if he got his hands on me, he would literally murder me. One punch from him, and I’d be eating through a straw, for the rest of my life. Couldn’t let that happen. I’d obviously have to try some unusual tactics to avoid him caving my skull in with meaty fists. But what? I had no ideas, so just lunged in there – to no avail, thankfully he missed me too. I turned back to my friends, with a look that said “Jesus Christ – please fucking help you set of complete dickheads” – but no, they just made gestures for me to get a move on.

I was quivering with a fearful kind of excitement, everything was blurred in a mad frenzy – perhaps I would cry, that would be humiliating. Light bulb. I jumped in and booted him in the chest…I pretty much bounced straight off him, cue laughter from the blurs that surrounded me…I tried again, It was literally the only way I could think of to keep distance from this unnatural behemoth. It never worked, I just pinged back as if I was the pinball – and he was the strong flippers at the bottom. He attempted to grab me on numerous occasions, but never quite managed it.

So there I was – just flying in with useless kick, after useless kick. Like a demented version of Kung Fu Panda, but without any of the guile, or charm that makes him admirable. But I had no Plan B – I’d just keep trying this until a teacher would inevitably break it up…after all, there is NO chance any of the onlookers would do anything of the sort. That’d be way too mature, way too sensible.

“OI! WHAT’S GOING ON OVER THERE?!” 

“Oh, thank God” I thought to myself, with a sigh of relief:

Happy RElief  GIF

The crowd dispersed, in every direction – and we fled back to our respective corners. But there’s no real code, and soon someone, somewhere had snitched…and the teacher was over next to us, asking questions. “WHO WAS FIGHTIN’? HUH?”  Everyone insisted that nothing had happened, that he had been seeing things…“NO FIGHT? THEN WHY WAS THERE A MASSIVE CROWD? HMM?” One of my friends tried to cheekily claim that the crowd was to do with a Yu-Gi-Oh card, and that it was really rare, so everyone was crowding around to see…inventive, I’ll give him that – but the teacher didn’t buy it. And before long the truth came to light.

We were suspended for the day, the two of us. And while we waited for our parents, we had to sit together – which was awkward…I felt like at any moment he would smash my face through one of the glass cabinets, or at the very least strangle me to death with his banana stained tie. But he didn’t. Just stared at me non-stop, as I squirmed with unease.

Fortunately both my parents were out at work, so it fell to my Grandad to pick me up. Which was a lot less daunting. I slumped into his car, and he immediately wanted all of the details – did I get a good punch in? How big was he? etc, etc! I said he was massive, so I tried to kick him, but it didn’t exactly work out. I thought it best not to mention the fact that I was flying around like a terrible Hong Kong Phooey imitation. And that if I wasn’t so small, he would have probably crushed me to death…

Crushed Head GIF

Anyway, we drove on to my Grandparent’s house, where we had mountains of bacon sandwiches, and gallons of hot sugary tea. My Grandma fussed over me, as Grandmas do – whilst my Grandad made me laugh with Rocky impressions. Later on he called me up to his attic, where he showed me an antique crossbow he had kept hidden for years. “YOU BETTER NOT BE SHOWING HIM THAT CROSSBOW KEITH, IT’S DANGEROUS!” called my Grandma from the kitchen…

He lied, and winked at me – whilst trying to fight back a grin. Then we went back downstairs, and lounged around watching cowboy films for the rest of the day. I suppose in this life, you have to take the good with the bad – and this memory encapsualtes that message entirely for me…it was both the worst day, and the very best day. And for that reason I wouldn’t change it, even if I could. 

Well…perhaps…I wouldn’t have went with the lame kicking technique – would have been nice not to be labelled “Jackie Chan” for the rest of my school-days! But yeah, never mind…

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