LATEST GOSSIP

January 2007


Me,  Pete,  Mike,  Steve,  Simon(Piggy),  and Nick 
enjoy New Years Day grub at the Old Bell in Grazeley Green

New years day, Reading 6 West Ham 0 not a bad start to the year. Both Piggy and Peter Hall were at the game, an event not to be repeated for many a year no doubt as they live in Queensland and South Australia respectively. Twas lashing down after the game to we legged it home sharpish to discover water dripping through the ceiling...lovely.
?60 lighter to fix that little problem. Good job I got it done in time because January decided to lash down with rain for days on end. It was so bad Mia and I took a trip up to the usually rainy Peak District to get away from it.
My first ever "dreamweaver" page has been uploaded Nina 2006. Looks the same as all my others and took twice as long to do...Me thinks I gotta learn some more.
Back at college for a chaotic couple of weeks then, you guessed it another two weeks off. This time for half term. Filmed Evalina's "Late Again" at my house till 4:30 in the morning...I was the main actor so didn't get to do any technical stuff.
Great month for footy...Reading unbeaten and I didn't miss a game. I even won the Paul Black bet a couple of times.

February 2007


I've been spending my precious money on DVD's, new TV, new sofa...damn this has got to stop or i'll never be able to afford to go back to Taiwan! With my 2 weeks off I managed to get another webpage in the back log done. another Dartmoor hike to Dunsford back in October.
Add to that my Thames Valley University page.
We had some heavy snow which I wanted to record for the website, but guess what, I've lost my Dij Camera...I blame it on Mia personally as I'd never be so stupid to lose something like that...
So, yeah, new camera plus new external hard drive for my course, plus a load of new books. Will the spending ever end?
The new semester means new teachers, classmates and modules. Seems like we are really starting now. The teachers(sorry, LECTURERS) are much stricter, I got a bollicking for being 10 minutes late. But on the plus side, the hottest girl I have seen so far is in my Media study class.
If she were a fox she would be hunted with only her cunning to protect her.....SHWIIING.
Went on a weekend trip up to see Reading play at Middlesbrough and stayed in the nearby North Yorkshire Moors. Very pleasant it was too despite Reading losing and me getting frequent dizzy spells....and it wasn't due to seeing a line of bogs being used as flower pots!

We hiked around the "Hole of Horcum", stopped at a pub in the middle of nowhere which turned its nose up at hikers, "No muddy boots" and put in about eight miles, which must be a record for Mia. I might even get round to putting the pictures up one day. On the last day I started freaking out about my dizzy spells thinking a brain tumor was kicking in. Luckily I got to see a doctor who confirmed Ev's theory that I had Vertigo...Hmmm, another old aged ailment to go with my long sightedness.

March 2007


Editing seems to be the main focus of Uni and I've virtually been living in Grove House where the Apple computers that house the Avid software are. Checkout the edits that I've done so far. Plus my version of "The Rucksack" where I played a rather wooden lead.
Met Gareth and t'other lads up in London and it seems Filthy Fil might have a job for me in the porn industry come the summer. Well, an auteur has to start his career somewhere... final week of March was a case of knuckling down and getting all my assignments done and handed in. I have no idea whether i've done well or not but can safely say the scores should be between 50 and 65. You have to be brilliant to get over 70 and a clod to go under 50. Sometimes the scoring seems a bit odd.
Ev tells me skelly has moved house and Shaun is leaving Taiwan...how dare she know more about what's going on there than me!! Olivia is leaving Taiwan too and can't come to UK as she's been a bad girl in the past and they won't let her in...probably porn.

April 2007


Reading lost at Tottenham on 1st April. Must have been some kind of April fools joke when the ref gave them a dodgy penalty in the first half, but didn't give us one in the second...
First time in ages a group of us have gone though Trademark Mark was rather the worse for wear having been celebrating his birthday the night before.
Check out some fine acting by my good self in Late Again?! a film we made in January.
College broke up for two weeks in Easter and this coincided with a lot of sun. Unfortunately, first Mia, then I caught colds...
Got some more projects on the go for editing and hiked a lot. That seems to be my life right now, Uni and walking. Trips to the Peninnes,Stonehenge, Cheddar and Bath. Even stayed in a castle!
Probably the best weather the UK has ever had for an April, roll on global warming...
I am now a confirmed Muse fan. I bet Mia is regretting having got me into them as I play them all the time now.
Mia went back to Taiwan to get her teeth done(!!!) and I went to Bolton with Nick. The following weekend Ev came down to stay...first time in about 2 years and it was cracking until...er...we were on a walk in the hills and the subject of commission for sending students to the UK to study cropped up. It's an old story going back 9 years and has lain dormant for a long time. In Ev's eyes the issue was cleared up(as she didn't lose out) but not in mine.In short she went ballistic and I don't think I'll be seeing her again for some time...

May 2007


Decided I'll be headed back to Taiwan end of June....but for how long??
I have yet to decide whether to continue with my course. I'll make the decision in Taiwan, the fun factor there will decide for me!
Spent a fortune getting my taps, boiler fixed. This country is damned expensive, cost me ?00 just for a couple of smallish jobs.
I've been a busy bugger at college, working to 8pm Tuesday and Wednesdays and then going to my new "Advanced web design" course on Thursdays till nine...man I'm learning so much, don't know if my brain will be big enough to absorb it all!
Loree's pregnant and now it has been revealed that Jenny's pregnant....oh dear, who's going to be the third?
Trip to the Black Mountains with Gareth and Eamon. Fair play to the chaps for struggling up the hill carrying heavy backpacks, whilst I carried nothing! We had all weathers on top, wind, rain, hail and sun. It were tough but spoiled somewhat by the presence of hundreds of hikers doing some Black mountain challenge.

BEGONE EVIL CONIFER

A guy knocked on my door saying my conifer tree needed to be either topped or chopped down because it was touching power lines. This was somewhat fortuitous because I had been wondering what to do about the monster that was taking over my garden. I went for the chop down option and was suitably gratified to learn that there was no charge for the service.The next day two chaps showed up and chopped the bugger down. I also managed to get rid of some of the other crap in my garden, which was great. When all was clear I discovered a hedgehog lying curled up in the debris. I thought it was dead or dying but five mins later when I returned, my spiky friend had legged it.

The final furlong at Uni and the usual panic to get everything finished in time. We managed to finish filming despite Natasha (principal actor) dislocating a knee and having to walk on crutches. The work was saved in my opinion by John, who once again did a sterling job on the sound to get it up to scratch. We did a fantastically smooth presentation on "violence in the media" compared to some of the crap others groups came up with! To be honest I don't think any other group can touch us and I think it's a little unfair that all the best people are working together...but hey, that's life. I even did some studio work for year 2 students, reading the news. A crew of twenty people had to produce a programme with four camera's, mixing desks, autocue, sound engineers, lighting, floor managers etc etc. Looked very intense, and of course this is what we will be doing next term.....god knows where we are going to find twenty people who we can trust, I can only come up with about ten so far!

I read this book by Nick Mason. Interesting insight into the Floyd from the inside. Mr Mason was suitably diplomatic though and there is no real hard hitting revalations or slagging of anyone. Shame, but a good read anyway.

The final game of the season at Blackburn and trip to Pendle Hill is now up and running. Click on the red pump to see where we stayed.

June 2007


So, Uni ended with us, except for media studies getting no results for previous semester....very poor.
Booked my flight to Taiwan and threw in a trip to Spain as well...two weeks of study in Cadiz before heading back to the far east....er, didn't quite work out like that. Mia was a bit upset(to say the least) about my imminent departure and when it came to the day of heading off to Stanstead, I only managed to get as far as Reading station. There was a bit of a Mexican standoff with Mia starting to walk off then turning back again, me getting in and out of the car and finally I decided not to go. Only cost me a mere ?00!
So, instead of sunny Spain we went to sunny Dorset and camped a couple of nights near Swanage and then Durdle door. Took in Corfe Castle, Old Henries Rocks, the nude beach at Studland and a coastal walk to Lulworth Cove.
Saw the Counterfeit Stones in Newbury, who were simply brilliant. I would have enjoyed it all the more if I hadn't had a big bust up with you know who...

So, instead of Spain I was able to attend mother's birthday party in Bracknell ,which had mixed emotions for Mum as Ray has had to go into a nursing home. Still, the Banana plant I boughtt her should cheer her up!
Later on that evening went to a rather fun party in Farnham where Mia showed she can be a lot of fun when she's drunk!
Because Spain was off the menu we arranged a camping trip to the Lake District. Dusted off the old tent, hauled my sleeping bag out of the back of the cupboard and set off with Mia to Ambleside. It was a great trip spoiled only by the weather, which gradually deteriorated the longer we were there. Anyway, still managed to climb 2 peaks despite a recalcitrant partner, including Wainwright's Haystacks.

This is us overlooking Windamere
We spent four nights in the tent including an eventful time when I left my keys in the boot of the car and had to call out the AA!
The rain eventually won however and we spent the last night in a pub in Keswick. I was so taken with the place that I've vowed to go back and climb Scafell Pike!
The last few days were a bit emotional because I was leaving and on Friday,

after a big terrorist alert delayed the flight by two hours I flew back to Taipei and straight into a party at Matts!
Got steaming drunk as did everyone else and had a roaring hangover the next day which must have affected my golf...

July 2007


Spent the first week climbing about 5 peaks and battling the rain which made the UK/Taiwan transition very smooth.

CLIMBING PENRACK MOUNTAIN

On the day of the opening of Taipei's new cable car service to Maukong. We decided to avoid the crowds and climb a nearby mountain. Just as well. It broke down on its first day of operation and by the end of the month had failed a more than 70 times, leaving punters stranded in the searing heat.

Visitors ride the Maokong cable car system yesterday afternoon. The system resumed service yesterday noon after being shut down on Saturday following a malfunction that left hundreds of riders suspended in mid-air for up to two hours. PHOTO: LIN CHENG-KUNG, TAIPEI TIMES
The Bear was in his final week before heading off S.E Asia way and probably not a moment too soon. The man had a severe dose of Taiwanitus, slagging off pretty much everything. This condition happens to most foreigners at one time or another, especially if they haven't had a break for a while. On the Bears final weekend I smoked him to the top of Thumb mountain to rub a little insult into the wounds!
Bagged a few hours work back at the Eurocentre only to see the deterioration of Yann the boss. Drunk at 10:00 in the morning, shirt undone, hurling insults and wildman appearance...I wonder if this operation can keep going for much longer.
I have been a bit of a Carnegies monster since getting back, which is only to be expected considering the complete absence of a nightlife back 'ome. Underwear free seems to be the trend for Dave's girlfriend Sharon which has to be commended! Had one nastly moment when a drunk girl grabbed my phone just as I was checking for Mia messages. The phone rang at exactly that time and she wouldn't give the phone back saying, "Mark is busy" to Mia. By the time I got it back Mia was frantic and understandably took some time to cool down..
Whilst waiting for the Plum Rains to subside I did manage to get my Black Mountains page up and running. Looking at the layers of clothes I was wearing there just two months ago is a good reminder of why I like living here! Though when the sun shines here it is like an inferno...
Matt keeps racking up better and better golf scores and here he is proudly showing off the trophy.

The following Saturday I went with Skelly and Jenny to this rooftop "event" above Room 18(trendy club) and it was full of the hottest girls i've ever seen. If i'd put a match to some of them it would have burst into flames....should have got some pics....damn.
Next dsy I took Skelly off to Pingshee and I have to admit he smoked me to the top of the spikes...the fact that i'd been out drinking to four whilst he had been sipping coke didn't come into the equation as far as he was concerned. A mad guy stopped me on one mountain road and just got on the bike. He didn't understand me, nor I him, so i just drove along till he signalled to get off...very strange. Skelly was most amused.

Stopped off at a mountain coffee shop and they had these beasts wandering around. I'm suprised the pig hadn't been eaten or the tortoise barbequed...

Matt and I did a double round of midweek golf and both came up trumps. I bagged a 66 my best ever score and Matt got a hole in one and equalled his PB. Skelly was naturally fuming and spitting curses from a dark corner....That boy is a wooden spoon certainty for the next game!
Mia has not taken my leaving for Taiwan very well and I have been wondering if it was worth coming back at all...thinking about heading back to UK again end of August.
I've kept myself busy by teaching, though not enough classes. A lot of students from last year too. I've also been continuing my exploration of the nearby mountains and have covered most of the routes by now. My aim is to find a link between my local mountain and the Elephant mountain area plus, going the other way from my house out to the Fairy Rock in Jing-Mei....lots of graves to negotiate to find these elusive paths.
Had an interesting Saturday night with Matt and Olivia. We dashed over to the football stadium to see a band at the Formos Festival only to find they had been on a couple of hours before. Decided then to go to a Bikini party at the World Trade Centre only to find it was a kind of teenage hip-hop gathering. The evening looked like being a disaster until we discovered a bar that was giving away drinks for free. Strange as at the other bars you had to pay but needless to say we took full advantage and were soon blind drunk. Ended up at Carnegies as usual and didn't get to bed till 6am!! Terrible hangover the next day which was slightly mitigated by going to see the Bootleg Beatles in the evening.


This is a 20 minute video, so might take a while to buffer...especially if you have a crap internet connection.

August 2007


CAR CHAOS

So, it's luch at New York Bagel before a hectic day of tennis and golf. Waited an age to get served. Ate a very average meal, then left to find that Skelly's car has been towed....
So, we all pile into Matt's car and drive off to the pound to retrieve the Skellmobile. All well and good. Off to the tennis courts and Matt's car breaks down...
We were right in the middle of a busy road. I managed to push it to the side and luckily a repair shop was nearby. The binlang chewing chaps had a look and reckoned it would be quite expensive to fix and for a car that age probably not worth it....

In the evening it was supposed to be a "Lads night" at Skelly's house but...er with Jenny, Acki's bird Jessie, Brenda and her two kids it was anything but that. Well, we had a card session which was regularly interrupted by beer and for fag breaks on the veranda. Later we moved on to playing "Scattagories." This is a very simple game involving trying to think of words using a promt card and beginning with a letter decided by the throw of a special alphabet dice. The card lists things like, "A kind of animal", "things you use in the kitchen" etc, and you write the answers down on a piece of paper....all very basic and an eight year old child would learn it in 3 minutes. Acki, however by this time had crossed the threshold of alcohol and smoke and instead of writing down the words in the 3 minutes allocated he just ticked the card with the prompts. when we saw what he had done we gave him an extra three minutes to try again. This time he started ticking the card again but on being shouted at by Skelly, picked up the paper and started writing furiously. At the end of three minutes he gave us the paper to reveal a page of scrawl...he hadn't written anything, just scribbled all over the paper......quite remarkable. His girlfriend, by the way, is just 19...Acki is 49.

Nina is back in town but I have yet to see her. First she was in Taichung visiting relatives, then as I was on the MRT going to Panchiao to pick them up, Natasha phoned up to say she couldn't find them......theres a typhoon coming this weekend, then they're off to HK for 5 days. I meanwhile have a flight confirmed for the 28th August going back to the UK to rescue Mia. This is probably the most expensive ticket I will ever buy in my life but is necessary in the circumstances as my young girlfriend is struggling in England all alone. Actually I am quite looking forward to it. Three weeks back home should be a bit of a laff, and I always enjoy jetting around!!
On a wet and miserable Tuesday afternoon, I finaly beat Matt at golf. My game has gradually improving but Matt is so used to beating us at absolutely everything that I think it came as a bit of a shock.
The Lake District page is up. It's very difficult to do my website here as the Bear doesn't have internet (He lives in the stoneage, except for anything to do with music where he is at the forefront of technology).
The rain just doesn't stop and on Thursday 23rd I got caught in probably the biggest downpour of the summer. I was at the Eurocentre phoning around trying to get a better deal on my airfare when I noticed this huge black cloud looming towards the city. I grabbed my bag and made a dash for it and would have made it if it wasn't for the travel agent calling me as I was stuck at the lights on Tun-hua and Ren-ai. By the the time I got onto Keelung and the home straight the heavens opened. I was only a minute from home but by the time I got to the door I was soaked. A couple of minutes later the living room was a lake and filled a whole bucket with water. Luckily I'm quite handy with a mop. The UK is apparently no better, where they haven't even had a sniff of summer. At least it's warm here...
ghost month was apon us and on the 14th day of the lunar month paper money was being burnt with a fury. I was out trying to find a bank that would give me money to pay the bear's rent, when I came across Olivia outside Carnegies doing her bit!

Finally got to see the kids...two days before I left. Took them to the night market for the standard round of games and crap prizes, followed by hide and seek back at the Bear's where they turned the place upside down! Jing-i is growing up fast and looks about 14 (they are both 12). Nina hasn't changed at all and looks about 10, she's also about 5 inches shorter than jing-i.

The next day we went to the new Taipei water park which was a reasonable amount of fun. The water of course was very shallow so naturally aimed at young children rather than a 46 year old man. After taking the kids back I went out and met Skelly who was out with Brett whom I haven't seen for a year or so. Naturally they were drunk and sinking saki at a mini Jap bar that can hold no more than 10 people! I can see the glint in Skelly's eye when Jenny isn't around and more importantly when Brett is! He's a party boy at heart and gagging to get up to mischief...Anyway, we ended up at Paulina's via On Tap and needless to say I felt shit the next day. Luckily my flight wasn't until the evening.
Got back to the UK in one piece. Straight to my brothers to borrow a car. The world stands still at the Plough...cars, sharedealing, Leanne running around with a hassled expression bringing in cups of tea. John cleaning cars and saying how much he hates it!
Well, got myself a 4-seater, went home to change and then dashed down to Guildford to help Mia move as she had to be out by the end of the month. Back to my place to unload the boxes before starting to feel really tired...
Footy the next day and met the lads in the Farriers where I played a crap game of pool!
Reading were rubbish and got trounced 3-0

September 2007


Decision time for me. Should I stay in the UK and continue with my Film course? Or should I go back to Taiwan and get back onto the teaching waggon with regular golf and hike breaks? It's a toughie...I look around my small town and all I see are badly dressed fat people waddling around. We're not an attractive race. Even on TV they've got a programme called "How to look good naked" which is to give fat people the confidence to get their kit off....Why, I ask? I for one don't want to see the flesh of these people.
A trek up to Sunderland didn't really make me want to stay...we lost and there wasn't the usual buzz of an away day.
An old Taiwan Mate, Mick Tandy got married so a load of us converged on Burgess Hill for the celebrity bash of the year. Evers and Skelly saw each other for the first time in years and it was also the first time I'd seen her since our blow out a few months back. Lots of larfs were had and hopefully I'll get the website together soon.
Spent the rest of the month dithering....couldn't decide whether to continue at Uni or go back to Taiwan. To complicate matters I found a new course on digital Arts that looked interesting but was only available for 1st year students in Kingston...could do year 2 in Ealing but would have to do extra catch up modules. so what do I go and do? Well, I register for year 2 in ealing and then fly back to Taiwan, that's what I do.....what am i like?
I guess Reading losing every game I went to see and constant arguments with Mia didn't help the staying in UK cause....
Anyway I did get to see the classic, record breaking, er, defeat at Portsmouth where we lost 7-4 and flew out the next day.

October 2007


Arrived in Taiwan and started work the first day...no messing around like. Typically, I wished I'd stayed in the UK and was thinking about the course and how great it would be!!
The rain just doesn't stop no matter where I am and even managed to throw a super typhoon into the bargain. Bear and I had to mop up 3 bucket loads of water off the floor. Not from a leaky roof mind, but from a leaky floor!
Rain just never seemed to stop but still managed to take in a few hot hikes. It wasn't long before my desire to be in the UK faded and I got into the swing of life in Taiwan. Taipei city is much more fun that Thatcham, that's for sure! Managed to get the golf going again despite protests from the Bear...tennis is too hard on the old joints! Skelly's Friday night smoking cabin has also restarted despite protests from Mia this time!

Couldn't decide what to wear for Halloween...Dabbled with the idea of a Cosplay outfit, but settled on a bit of mystery with a Venetian mask.

November 2007


Blagged myself a three day promotional video paying decent loot. The only down side was I had to shower in a showroom with only cold water! Throw in a bike ride wearing just a T-shirt on the Gwan-Du cycle path and you have the perfect recipe for a cold....damn.
The Eurocentre despite promising much has yet again not really provided and I have been forced to sell my soul and teach part time for a kids school...the one and only Giraffe. It wasn't long before the kids rumbled that I'm a soft touch and after a couple of weeks the decibel level shot up with the result that another teacher stormed in after my classes and threatened me with the sack...damn again. finaly got myself a new computer and now all I need to get is an internet connection, then we'll be rocking. Trouble is, foreigners can't sign a contract...sometimes this place is a hassle!

IS THERE A GOD?


Well, after reading this book you won't be believing in sky fairies no more. Fair play to Mr Dawson for having the courage to write this. There's a lot of folk out there who don't take having their delusions shattered too kindly.

December 2007


Don't talk to me about hassle!
I had inadvertently cocked up the address on my residence card so, thinking it would be a straightforward job to go and change it I sauntered down to the Foreign Affairs Office. Naturally they sent me packing due to lack of documentation, i.e. no rent book.
Next week I'm down there again...rent book dutifully in hand. Nah! Out of date, must get a new one plus letter from the Bear to say I live there, plus copy of his passport, plus copy of utility bill (that we don't get because ours is an illegal roof top dwelling)
Ok, so armed with Bear letter, passport copy, Bill from the good chaps downstairs, up to date rent contract (also from our good neighbours), my passport and A.R.C. I went back for another stab. Success? Of course not! Bears signature not clear enough compared to others and he doesn't live there...because officially he's still at Skelly's old place. What to do? Give up is the answer! Fuck the foreign affairs...now they can never find me!


Skelly and Jenny shot off to the baby shop and Shinjuang and bagged themselves a wee lass tentatively called "Skellina" but still awaiting confirmation.

A certain person, we'll call him "Belly" got into trouble when his boss found out, via my site that Belly had once tried to get him the sack...Red faces all round and I was forced to make the necessary adjustments to remove the scandalous information.

I am currently gripped by the Bear's recent purchase of the Entourage TV series...That is a lifestyle I could quite comfortably adapt to!

A few highlights of the Tandy wedding that I've just finished

So, another year ends and having experienced no summer whatsover this year, another first was chalked up. I worked on Christmas day!!
That's right, for the first time in my life I did a days work on the festival of Yule. So, Christmas cancelled, summer cancelled, what else?
Well, New Years Eve was quite a laff but when 12 o'clock struck I was standing in a queue to get drinks...The fireworks on 101 didn't last long so I missed them!
We went to some groovy party in the Presidential Suite of the Sun World Hotel where a lot of drunk people cavorted around to house music. Mia and I were both badly behaved but made it home together about 5:30 am...intact and still an item...

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