Elderly Children

The other day I laughed like I haven’t done in months…and it wasn’t from a well-crafted and intelligent political barb either, or an amusing satirical comment on Western society’s culture – or anything else that demands some level of brain activity to “get” – noit was a lot more simple and pure than all of that, but not any less meaningful. Well, maybe a little…

Anyway it was undoubtedly something silly; and it came about by me walking into a classroom, and coming across a rather strange sight – a small hunched character who couldn’t have been more than five or six years old. It was one of those moments where it takes a few seconds to take it all in and process…

Huh GIF

You see this kid had pushed his shoulders up, and his head down – basically eliminating his whole neck…making him look vaguely reminiscent of  both Frankenstein’s monster and a penguin with a spinal problem at the same time. To keep the shoulders in shape he was forced to waddle as he walked to maintain composure…and felt it was necessary to emit a few R2-D2 style “BOOP-BAP-BEEP”s every now and again, which (thanks to his missing front teeth) had an eerie and creepy sound to them…this was all probably necessary though,  just to remind people he was still there circling the table.

I also noted that he would occasionally outstretch his right hand slightly as if reaching for an imaginary walking stick which he had sadly misplaced…which led me to believe this was perhaps an older Frankenstein’s monster penguin model. But that was of course an assumption I am still yet to verify. Either way I felt in my heart of hearts that if I had some spare teeth lying around I wouldn’t hesitate to offer them to this bizarre yet amusing creature, he was just trying to live dammit – and seemed like a pretty nice guy.

Friend GIF

There was just something about the whole spectacle which made me burst out laughing, and as he inevitably began to giggle too the shoulders began to droop slowly but surely…and the beeps turned into baaps, and the baaps quickly turned into “ba-ha-ha-ha”s. Before I knew it we were both in hysterics with laughter, and so the rest of the kids in the class took the baton: copying the same character, busily circling the table with their now neckless bodies.

Such little weirdos, seriously!

But it made me think though…where do we lose this? And when…and WHY?! Because I know I still behave like this – but I’m seen largely as stupid, childish, or immature (there are other words but it’s a family show). However I do feel like if we were all a little more like this, just having fun and amusing both ourselves and each other…then life would be that little bit more enjoyable. In other words if the elderly had as much of a laugh imitating children as these kids had imitating the elderly then this world would be a lot less dreary.

Old Lady GIF

All I know is I’m writing a mental note to do the Frankenstein’s monster penguin shuffle at age 93. Don’t let me forget…okay? Even if I scream at you to get off my lawn and begin a rant about “kids these days”…make me do it.

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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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Simple Tips for Novel Planning (Video Request)

I’m currently working on a new novel…rather excited about it actually – I promise I’m going to come through with this one (motivation through “wooooo, you can do it!” calls would be greatly appreciated!) so it is rather bizarre that I got a wee video request asking for tips on planning out novels…

If you have any advice for myself or other writers then remember – sharing is caring! Would love to hear what has worked, and what hasn’t worked for you! 

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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Kid’s Tall Tales

This internet age we live in is amazing; it brings humanity closer together, communication has never been easier, there is a wealth of information at our fingertips – and it’s true to say Storytime with John wouldn’t exist without it! So, what’s not to love about that?!

Creepy GIF

This guy knows…

Well…whilst I accept all of those points highlighted (especially the latter), I must say I’ve noticed one thing that the internet has well and truly ruined…and it’s a big one I’m afraid…

And that is, tall tales. You remember those? When you could hear a fact from your friend, who heard it from someone else, who heard it from his cousin’s ex-wife’s pet giraffe…and yeah, naturally by the time it reached you it was convoluted and contorted into a completely nonsensical story that no longer resembled anything close to reality…but still, it kept life interesting! 

You would probably know at least one person solely renowned for being a “bullshitter”, someone who would tell “tall tales” and basically just come out with absolute tripe that no one could possibly begin to take seriously…but it was fun. and people would crowd around to listen anyway – dissecting the whole story apart, and picking out bits that may be true ,and bits that must be total fabrication…adding in what they had heard from various unconfirmed sources…and so the cycle continues…

Lying GIF

Lies make the world a more engrossing place to be, let’s be honest.

Now what would happen these days, huh? If someone steps out of line, and dares to dream…has the pluck to just start waffling absolute garbage they basically know nothing about – some killjoy is certain to whip out their smart phone and Google whatever it is that has came into question…

“Ah-ha-ha, I have to stop you there…it says here that sushi is technically not raw fish as not all sushi involves raw fish” 

  • complete with a smug smirk despite the fact it wasn’t even pulled from their own brain bank…urgh, makes life dull doesn’t it? 

That’s another reason I love kids. They don’t give one solitary shit about truth, honesty, reason, and logic. Much like myself. They can stand in the face of facts and argue ardently on a point they barely even comprehend – now that is dedication, now THAT should be admired! You see they haven’t matured, I guess that’s what it is – but let’s not consider it in a negative light…instead let’s herald it as a much more interesting way to view the world…

You see a child hears something, perhaps something serious and very grown up…and they don’t full understand it…so they fill in the gaps with hearsay, rumor, and their imagination…and what comes out the other end is sheer unadulterated brilliance!

Hobbit WOW GIF

“That can’t be…is…hmm…tell me more…”

Like today for example, I was talking to some elementary kids about the MERS virus that is currently causing hysteria in South Korea, and they certainly had a lot of errr, riveting perspectives on the whole thing…like how about this? One kid told me that he’d heard the MERS virus crawls around while you’re sleeping – and goes into ladies with baby bellies…eats the baby inside and then comes out to go onto the next unfortunate victim. Horrifying and worthy of a sequel film, but a great tall tale all the same…

But did I reach for the phone? No – I argued in the traditional sense…told him it wasn’t true, and that he needn’t worry. But he insisted he had watched it on the news, and had asked his mother who had added credibility to the claim…so that was that, there was no convincing the lad.  So I admitted defeat, instead requesting he double checks his facts (you know, just in case!)

If there are any bullshitters still out there…then long may you live, and prosper – you add much to the tapestry of life, and I am sad to see your numbers dwindling.

This article is dedicated to my old friend in first grade class, who would tell me his father’s job was to be an Indiana Jones type figure who fought off villains and gorillas in some distant land someplace. I still believe you.

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The Struggling Artist (USA)

USA – Atlanta, Georgia ~2010

As a kid I could sit at the kitchen table for hours and hours drawing – whether it was superheroes, monsters or my teachers – my imagination was my own limit, and I did it all on reams of cheap copier paper (my Dad “knew a guy”)…unfortunately this passion was sidelined to the meager position of hobby once I was pushed into university. Sad times, but that’s life I guess. OR SO I THOUGHT!

After I was accepted to the Georgia State exchange programme, I was told that there was next to no limitation on what I could select for my classes, and that it would all count towards my degree. Four hours of art? No problem! So yes, not only would I be checking out if the food portions really are that much bigger (British people are fascinated by this for some reason), but I would also be enjoying four hours of unadulterated drawing every week, and it would actually be worth something! Drawing?! Obviously, I thought I was well on my way to becoming the next BIG THING…all sorts of thoughts flooded through my head; maybe I should change my name to Salvador…or maybe I should start wearing some weird shit to throw people off…or maybe I should invent something life changing – how about, a sandwich, that never runs out?

Genius GIF

Well I was getting a little ahead of myself, clearly. But it was fantastic news nonetheless.

Let’s fast forward a little bit…so it’s a warm summer day in downtown Atlanta, I’m certainly looking the part of “artist”; that is to say I am lugging an obnoxiously large art folder with me and I have a regrettable hat defying gravity on the back of my skull, possibly cut off jean shorts? Who knows. Basically, I looked liked the kind of guy you would strongly dislike on first sight, the kind of guy who invited and endorsed that kind of bitter prejudice. The kind of guy…well you get the point.

Surprising then, that as I am standing at the “sidewalk”, a busy looking business man runs up to me and grabs me by the shoulders…”EXXXXX-EXXXX-EXCUUZ ME?!” he stammered, in a caffeinated flurry. “Err?” I manage to reply.  “ARRR YOU AN, ARTIST?” I pause for some time due to sheer confusion, you see I wasn’t sure if taking an art class and holding a folder meant that I was a fully fledged “artist” (whatever that means)…but then I remembered I was wearing a hat and cut off jean shorts, so I landed on a definite…

“YES.!”

YES GIF

AWESOME! I NEED AN INSTALLATION DOING, LIKE…SOON! DO YOU HAVE YOUR CARD?!

“Ah. No. I don’t have one of those.”

DO YOU HAVE…A NUMBER THEN?

“Ahhh, no. I don’t have one of those either.”

DO YOU HAVE A SPARE PIECE OF PAPER THEN?

“Sorry, no. I need this for my-”

WHAT THE FUCK, DUDE?

And that was that. He stormed off into the cosmopolitan crowd never to be seen again. He probably found another person wearing a hat, who DID have a card, or a phone number, or a piece of paper, or a fully functioning brain. Anyway, after this I carried on to my class and immediately told my teacher what had happened…she seemed intrigued, and asked me to repeat the exact specifics of the encounter at least a couple of times – after which she looked at me closely with comforting eyes, held my quivering hands in hers and with a reassuring tone said…

“You fucking stupid bastard.”

Shock GIF

And that was the first and last day I ever considered myself to be, an artist. It was a tough gig guys, not for me.

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The Psycho Stalker…

Some stories write themselves…and some take years, and years…well this particular one has been waiting in the drafts for a long, long time. Every time I went back to it I just couldn’t find the words, I couldn’t express all of the oddness, craziness, and horror on the page! I came close, but it didn’t ever seem quite right… 

So at long last it is done! But in the form of a video – seriously the funniest one so far, and well worth a watch! If people need a giggle…and also a way to not fall asleep at night (sorry in advance for the impending nightmares!) then press that play button!

How would you have dealt with this one? Remember I don’t know kung fu, so that’s out the window…

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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KIDS MAKE ME SICK.

Kids make me sick. And, no, not just uncomfortable, or a little bit queasy – but down right, pit of the stomach, SICK. It’s just something that they do that can turn that “thank God it’s Friday!” feeling, into “thank God I didn’t eat a large greasy breakfast”…let me run you through Friday’s events real quick ~

So I’m sitting in my kindergarten class, going through one of the books – most of the kids say that it is “easy peas” (they’re Korean so cut them some slack on the misuse of the phrase!), however one of the boys struggles with learning difficulties, so I’m giving him a little bit of extra help. That’s when I hear the long whine that I hear about 3000 times a day (approximately): “Teeeeeeeaaaacccccherrr? Oh, Teaaaaaachhherrrr? Teeaaaaachherrr! TEAAAA-“

“Oh my GOH…WHAT?”

As I turn in a fit of rage (but still trying to maintain a pleasant kindergarten-esque smile), I see a horrendous sight. A six year old boy. With his arms outstretched, a crayon in each hand, has the squelchiest sick ever seen ALL down his front. He stares at me without blinking. I look him up and down, examining the new addition to his teddy bear t-shirt, in sheer disgust. This most certainly was not in the job description.

SHOCKER GIF

That’s when I suddenly realise I shouldn’t make a big deal out of it, so I walk around to his table, with as close to a reassuring face as I can muster. “Don’t worry, we’ll get you, WHOA, WOW”, that’s when I almost slide over on the mixture of rice(?) and carrot(?) that is right by his chair. So I pull him up without looking at it again and walk him out. (For some reason he still holds his arms out, holding the crayons, as if crucified in a state of shock).

I explain as best as I can to the assistant teacher outside, she nods and hands me some face wipes. FACE WIPES?! Perhaps I had some on my face? Did he projectile vomit all over me? Maybe I am in a similar state of shock, so I don’t realise? Not sure…oh no, scratch that! She’s gesturing that I should clean it up with them. Fantastic stuff. Thank God, it’s Friday.

So as I drag myself back into the room, which we can now refer to as, “THE PIT OF STENCH”, the other kids are going crazy, waving their hands over their noses at a frenetic pace and squealing in weird excitement; accompanied with the putrid smell, it is all making me very dizzy. Anyway, duty beckons – so begrudgingly I kneel down next to the specimen, I don’t want to seem like I’m scared of a little bit of…“URGAAAH” I yelp unintentionally…I’d forgotten just how gross the sight was. Of course onlookers think it is hilarious…I force myself on, and get out a few of the face wipes (like seriously though, what the hell?), and attempt to mop it up, I am of course, ill-equipped, and the sloppy goo seeps over the top of the wet tissue and floods between my fingers, “URGAAAAHHHHHHHH!”

Disgusting GIF

I am now convulsing and retching uncontrollably, gasping for fresh air, only to be met with more of the same foul odor – again, onlookers think it is the funniest thing they’ve seen since Despicable Me 2. 

“What’s wrong Teacher?” someone sniggers

“Well…I think that should be obvious – I am wiping up sick with my bare hands” I mutter,

“What Teaaaacher?”

I go for a change of tactic and pick up some of the sturdy flash cards we have for vocabulary, by chance it is “meat” and “story” that will be giving me a hand. I crouch back down and scoop it up, using meat as a makeshift plate and story as a knife to scrape it on to. (I’m basically the Bear Grylls of the kindergarten classroom.) I then push them together like the grossest Subway sandwich ever, and walk out of the classroom trying my best not to look at the contents of my hands. The assistant gives me a look that says something along the lines of “ohhhh, I would have did it…you have done it already? Oh, okay! Never mind!”

I decided to keep the offender out of playroom time, we sat and played on my phone quite happily. I was hoping he would be some kind of prodigy and beat my high score for me. He didn’t. But I didn’t let that get me down – thank God it’s Friday, right? Right. After the playroom time is up we all skip out and BLURAAAAGGGGGHHHH. Round two, all on a carpet this time.

Back in class again. (WHY ARE THEY NOT CALLING HIS PARENTS?) And we are trying to take it easy, coincidentally we are writing and drawing about good manners, I ask the offender for an example of polite etiquette – he answers “sitting nicely?” It’s a great answer! Isn’t it funny how we can always give good advice to each other, but don’t exactly follow it ourselves? Anyway, I digress.

It’s getting close to lunch time, it’s one of those watching the clock days.That’s when round three comes in, it’s exhausting to even recall it. And it’s putting me off my coffee even now, two days later.  But to say it was explosive would be an understatement. This child is like four foot or something and he basically has a river of vomit flooding from his mouth, where is it all coming from? I’ll say it like this, I had time to look at every kid’s facial reaction in the time that it took for him to finish. I could see this was scarring them for life. Good to know I wasn’t the only one.

I picked him up with one arm and grabbed his bag with the other. I then told the assistant to call his Mother, immediately. I don’t like to come off rude ever…but the new reservoir of sick that I had in my classroom was starting to distract the others just a little.

For some reason, he was still sat there when I returned from lunch. Whatever happened to three strikes and you’re out?! He wanted to play, and call me a “silly Grandpa man” when his vomit was probably still under my fingernails. Come on man, have a heart.

Alright GIF

And that is why kids make me sick.

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Arguments with Children

Arguments with children…I don’t know why I even allow myself to be suckered in – EVERY SINGLE TIME. Perhaps it’s some kind of vague ambition to truly educate, and make a difference…so that years in the future the now fully grown child reminisces and admits:

“He was right! I’m so thankful he steered me in the right direction at such a young age…I will have to find him and give him renumeration in the form of a cash lump sum…after all I am now a billionaire thanks to him!” 

Or you know, words to that effect. Basically I think there is a rather paternal instinct present in me which seeks to sculpt young minds in a positive way; perhaps impart some wisdom accrued from experience, and whatever else…I’m not saying I’m Yoda (after all my face doesn’t quite resemble a ballbag to the same degree), but I am certainly living with the belief I can create more Jedis than Sith…

Yoda GIF

Yeah…what he said!

But it’s not as easy as all that. There are always curveballs with children – you can’t ever take anything for granted, you can never just assume ANYTHING; how did you get ice cream in your eyeball? Why did you put my sunglasses in the toilet? Why are you about to jump out of the window? Why did you…well the list is infinite, so I’ll  stop right there – hopefully you get the picture, which is that they are little maniacs at the best of time.

So how do you try and teach life lessons to those who would rather discuss smelly socks? Well with great difficulty, obviously.That doesn’t stop be from trying though, although it probably should – you see I have already had two separate arguments this week, each lacking in logic of any kind – but both ending in myself being ridiculed, and jeered for being an absolute moron (바보).

I had initially estimated both scenarios to be sterling opportunities to give some important guidance to the younger generation; the first being of the utmost importance (the plot of The Lion King), and the second a lot less pressing but still kind of necessary I suppose…(where babies come from)…

Eager GIF

Concerning The Lion King, we were looking at animals in my kindergarten class…and then having a bit of a debate about which animals we liked, and which we didn’t – some people were big fans of snakes, some enjoyed gorillas, others tigers…it was an all-inclusive zoofest up in that classroom! Until I chimed in…“My favourite is the lion! He’s the king of the animals!”cue tumbleweed, and bitter stares…should go without saying I immediately regretted voicing my stupid opinion.

“NO. LION NOT GOOD.” barked the entire population of the class…well, I was a little taken aback – but I reinforced my reasons which I felt were legitmate – “NO! NO! LION NO KING.” 

I calmly asked them if they had ever watched the film The Lion King – they all nodded that they had – “you see…the film is called ‘The Lion King’ – because the lion…is the king!” I thought that I had put it across in a simple enough way, that the kids could surely rec – “NO JOHN TEACHER, LION NO KING!”

I should have just left it. I should have…I know I should have, but I didn’t. I lost my cool – “RIGHT…in the film there is a big lion, yes? And he is the king. The film is called ‘THE LION KING’ – because he is THE LION, KING! THE LION IS THE KING OF THE ANIMALS!” they glared back at me, all four of them…until someone broke the silence; “the monkey is king. Grandfather king.” – everyone began to agree, and nod frantically before suddenly breaking into laughter, and sarcastically patting me on the back as if to say “you were wrong, but never mind.”

YOU SERIOUSLY CAN’T REASON WITH THAT SMUG LOT.

Shocked GIF

The second argument came around today. And started off when for some bizarre reason a young boy asked me if I would rather have rabbits, or a rabbit. You get used to these seemingly inane questions when teaching kindergarten – and I find myself just answering without much hesitation or thought; “RABBIT! Just one…” As always with kids I was asked why, and I gave my reasoning which was that rabbits together have so many rabbit babies, and it can be like a mad house! Such a horribly boring adultish response, man I hate myself for even coming out with it, but nevermind.

“JOHHHHHNNN TEEEEEAAAACHER! SILLY, SILLY!” he crowed, in an imitation of the voice I use when they make a spelling mistake, or drop their snack on the floor. “BOY RABBIT, GIRL RABBIT OKAY! HAHA – JOHNNNN TEEEEAAAACHHHHERRR!” 

He went on to explain in detail how stupid I was, and why I was wrong in every way possible – I was under the false impression that daddy rabbits and mammy rabbits fall in love and then babies are dropped off by the stork, or whatever – but Daniel educated me in the truth and totally opened my eyes to the fact that rabbits are only trouble when you have the boys together – that’s how you get babies after all…

“But Daniel…you have a Mommy, and a Daddy…where did you come from?”

Ron Confused GIF

His mouth fell open a little, and his eyes peered around in confusion…as I waited patiently for the penny to eventually drop. But it didn’t. 

Instead he shook his head and yelled…“JOHNNNN TEEEEACHER, SILLY, SILLY”…and wandered off to get his chocolate milk, whilst chuckling to himself.

There’s always next time…one day…one day…

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Ladies First…or Ladies Last?

The days of the classic traditional Gentleman are gone – or at least if they’re not then they are effectively dinosaurs dying off one by one…slowly becoming extinct as metaphorical asteroids come smashing towards the ground in a fiery mess. You see as gender roles and attitudes shift, so does the old framework under which the Gentleman etiquette  once operated.

Now personally I like to treat everyone with kindness and respect – well you know; most of the time (aka…if I’ve had coffee) but I am not sure whether this makes me a Gentleman, or just a gentle man. The jury is out on that one…I must admit I’m still a little confused…

Handshake Hug GIF

But whatever the verdict – I have found this issue on my mind a lot recently, largely thanks to something coming up in my kindergarten class which I didn’t quite expect. You see during “snack time” there is a small window in which I have to try and cram all the various rules around politeness, manners, and etiquette…into six year olds…who don’t even speak English…and would much rather have a discussion about which animal does the biggest poops. Naturally it’s a tough learning curve, and can be quite a challenge, especially as such rules differ from country to country, and from culture to culture…

Ah, and if you’re curious about the aforementioned poo-size rankings, they assure me it goes; 1.Elephant, 2.Giraffe, 3.Horse.

But this time around as the two boisterous boys madly scrabbled in a rush to grab the biggest banana I found myself commanding: “ah-ah-ahhh! Ladies first!” in some kind of involuntary reflex. To which they spun around, and queried “why?” 

I was a little lost for words…after all, I didn’t want to instruct them that girls are weaker, or need help because they’re hands are just for show, or whatever else…that would be way off, so…erm…errrr…I wracked my brain frenetically for something usable – but it was just like a submarine radar…beep-beep-beep, but picking up absolutely nothing.

“You should be a gentleman!”  I announced suddenly in a (possibly) unsure tone to which the two young boys stared back in confusion. This was what was always said to me as a kid, and it makes sense…I mean who doesn’t want to be seen as a gentleman?! It’s the epitome of class, and sophistication!

Classy GIF

Was that the right thing to say? It’s hard to know these days…you have to be extra careful, because every little thing offends every little person. And yeah,  I’m probably reinforcing gender stereotypes, and all that jazz…

But my wiring is of a rather traditional nature I suppose, at least when you consider the attitudes of other people who are in the 20s age group along with me; I remember my Ps & Qs (no one says that anymore, do they?), I hold the door open for people, pay for dates/meetings that I suggested, and always urinate on the toilet seat. Well you know, no one’s perfect. 

But yeah help me out  – what do you think? Do ladies go first?

Manners GIF

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Mixed Messages

You can’t win em all…

MIxed Messages

Play good music at my funeral, and have a few drinks in my honor. That’s all I ask.

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