19. Giving up Facebook

Rumours that I was asked to leave Facebook due to a ‘near-universal lack of popeularity’ (their typo) and that my virtual headspace was required for ‘new, more dynamic users’ are way off the mark. In fact, we have parted company ‘by mutual consent’ (my words) and only for the time being: the launch of my novel, Death Defiers, in October means I will be re-joining in advance of that momentous event to do the marketing thing.

How am I adapting to my new, lo-fi lifestyle in the meantime? Well, so far so good. It may surprise you to learn that I am drafting this post on the off-white pages of an elasticated policeman’s notebook (though you may be less surprised to learn that none of my fellow passengers have yet mistaken the tall, bearded gweilo for an undercover cop and asked me to arrest any pesky mainlanders for suitcase-related felonies).

What I miss least from my FB days is not the universal acclaim granted to my self-consciously wacky dress sense or Leica-pure photography but rather the constant invitation to like or not like the variable efforts of others. Being a liberal yet petty-minded kind of netizen, I used to do this rather earnestly – scanning a fish eagle’s eye over the exploits of friends and asking myself like a confused Turner Prize judge: but is it art? Consulting the subcommittee in my brain I came to an agonizing decision every single time as my throbbing finger hung over the mouse button, or smudge, sequestered screen.

To like, or not to like? People’s lives may depend on this, yet often I resisted goading on the lonely and insane (as they resisted encouraging me).

Island life in the '80s - what's not to like?

Island life in the ’80s – what’s not to like?

And after a couple of beers?

Different story.

I would ‘like’ indiscriminately, from disco dancing hippos to the deaths of exotic household pets. How did I feel in the morning? Compromised beyond measure. My eventual solution involved holding myself in – something that comes pretty naturally in middle age – and waiting for something to come along that I truly ‘liked’.

And here it is, at last: quitting Facebook and complaining about it anonymously on yet another whingeing blog.

What do I ‘like’ even more than complaining? You, virgin reader, for finding me here without the all-encompassing power of Facebook to guide you gently to my realm.

Okay, now feel free to throb, hover and ignore me until the next post…


18. Job’s a good ‘un

Bolshy book launch

So after all the hype, we succeeded in getting Another Hong Kong launched at the exquisite Culture Club on 13th March. If you haven’t bought your copy already, please do so now. As you can probably tell from the photo of the relieved editing team (courtesy of SCC Overton) I celebrated our achievement in a similar fashion to singing sensation Tony Ferrino (aka Steve Coogan) when he won Eurovision. And why not…

Tony Ferrino

17. Is there a gecko in here?

People – or more often, the psychiatrist that lives in my head – often ask me if I mind living alone. In truth, I don’t (mind it, or live alone) because since moving out here in September, my flat has been kept free of pesky flies and bad vibes by a family of house geckos who, for convenience, I have collectively named Diggory. ‘Not a particularly aquatic name for one so suddenly obsessed with the sea?’ Sigmund Fraud suggests, chewing on a biro. That’s where he’s wrong – Diggory is in fact named after an old work colleague, Diggory Haddoke; in the name of sustainability and with sustainability in the name I thus opted not to call Diggory, say, Brian, after Brian Cod (Coventry City’s backup goalie 1972-5) but instead to give him a name of (slightly) greater stock.

Diggory, or possibly son of Diggory...

Diggory, or possibly son of Diggory…

I’m straying off the point. What you want to know is how living with ‘Digs’ differs from cohabiting with one of those unpredictable, non-insect-eating humans. Well, for one when I come in late he doesn’t fly into a rage: in fact he usually stops what he’s doing (often sucking on an old, discarded sock) and looks genuinely terrified, leading to lots of cooing and affectionate reassurance on my part, ‘Oo’s a good ‘ickle ‘ouse gecko then?’ Alas, no sooner have I turned to fix him a drink than he’s gone – quicker than a potential Hong Kong date when you explain you’re a struggling writer, live on an island, hate fancy restaurants and talk to geckos.

16. Bicycle Graveyard


One thing you learn early on the island is that while you can play ‘chase me, chase me’ with local folk and tourists after you’ve swerved around nervous ankles or leapt over cowering heads like Evel Knievel, once your beloved bike is stationary it becomes less blurry and so far more recognisable and thereby vulnerable to attack. Furthermore, if you leave it parked illegally outside a certain restaurant (or deign to suggest that their cheesy fish balls could have done with a bit more frying time) you may find that Big Wan is summoned from the recesses of the darkened kitchen – where he’s been busy cleaving whole pigs into mini hotdog sausages – and asked to hurl your two-wheeler into the bicycle graveyard clearly visible from our Malecon at low tide.

Bicycle graveyard 1/2

Now I’ve never actually seen Big Wan (it’s even possible that – like Big Juan out in Mexico – he’s a figment of my ravaged imagination) but I picture him as a kind of huge, hypersensitive Orc with dinner plates for hands, ejaculating tears whenever he recalls how his immense bulk through childhood led to the inadvertent destruction of at least a dozen shiny red tricycles. So remember (1) Do not aggravate Big Wan with your careless parking or facile food complaints and (2) if you inadvertently prang your pimped-up island racer into Big Wan as he’s shuffling home after a 12-hour shift, you better hope he’s got his hands full or it could be Davy Jones’ locker for you too…

Bicycle graveyard 2/2