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From left to right: Maria Benjamin, Harold Offeh, Jia Yin Tan, Alistair Hudson, kai Oi Jay Yung, Bryan Davies, Laura Davies
From left to right: Maria Benjamin, Harold Offeh, Jia Yin Tan, Alistair Hudson, kai Oi Jay Yung, Bryan Davies, Laura Davies

The group assembled for a group photograph to use on a poster for the weekend events, to say who we are and why we are here and what we are going to do, in basic words, no theory.

The main poster is too graphic for explanations, so it will have this suppement to go with it. I like the poster boards in town because they are actively read, rather than actively ignored like the pnes in the Lake District. Today the central board has every households elecricity useage up on a chart, so people know what to pay (like going to get your exam results) with the added bonus that any over-user is shamed into more ecological ways.

Bryan's new design market stall, pictured with the group, was made by the local carpenter to Bryans CAD designs and looks pretty good, and definitively beyond the post-colonial and more altermodern outsider chinoiserie.

The red roof comes off and inverts to make a seat. I am thinking of delivering my final day speech stood on it outside the theatre.

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Stacking is a contemporary term for accessing multiple media at the same time. In fact we do little of that here, being restricted to the internet and not much TV, radio or telephone.

As the horrendous story of the Sichuan earthquake unfolds, and emails from home enquire about our safety, it is clear that we are not as connected with these events as we would be back home. I follow the news on the BBC website, rather than pick up any strands here.

We didn’t feel the earthquake and whilst people talk about it and show us the newspapers, it’s not the same as experiencing the blanket coverage we would get back home.

Whether our parade could be conceived as too jovial in light of the disaster we have to gauge very carefully, but of course this is an irrelevance in face of the misery occurring over there.

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Topics: [Harold's Video Blog]

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坐在橙屋三楼的阅览室上网,日本的故友发来邮件问安,本来,大地震的事件,一直令我觉得遥远,但这封邮件却促使我去搜索了相关的地震信息,看着满目疮痍,不禁颤栗。
人在成都、家在都江堰的好友,短信发来浅浅一句:死的数以千计,跟废墟差不多。——灾难已经超乎想象,以至我们已经找不到适合的词汇来表达了。

这里的草垛还在继续,而且是“欢乐的”;星海翻译成“叠罗汉”,哈哈,这个太具象了,Stacking这个词汇本身所具有的丰富内涵,使我们一直很难找到合适的中文词汇来对应,所以我们偷懒,和子弟学校的美术老师张老师讨论海报的时候,直接把“Happy Stacking”翻译成了“快乐周末”,Alistair委屈求全地认可了,忍不住汗……

早上是Maria做的早餐培训,做薄薄的煎饼;培训完了,顺带也就完成了早餐;晚上是金童玉女Bryne夫妇一起进行意大利粉的厨艺培训,顺便也就可以带过我们的晚餐~~~今天以吃饭开始,再以吃饭结束,而且以厨艺培训为名。这次项目所来,本是为了社区发展,但是为橙屋酒店做适当的西餐入门培训,我觉得也是很有价值。(我们家大人听说我在这里学做早餐,很开心地说:放你来这里劳动改造,果然放对了……)

刚才跟Alistair以及Bryne一起去王姓的木匠师傅那里扛回(当然主要是他们扛)Bryne设计的货架,整体是原木色,顶棚确是非常喜庆的大红,配上他做的五月柱(Maypole)上,五颜六色随风飘飞的彩带,放在我们所住林舍隔壁的空台,非常有喜气。——相关的图片,大概会很快传上来,设备不便的我,就不再周折了。

灾难与欢乐在不同的时空继续。

上周见到几个吃长斋的阿婆,深信是她们的礼佛茹素护持了南岭这个地方,罗姓阿婆屋门外,水泥排水沟的罅隙处,悠悠然天然生出一树月季,深红素粉的花朵怒放朱颜,从屋檐下到水沟,落红一地。

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Look, Zhang Wei, he is working really hard.
Look, Zhang Wei, he is working really hard.

Damn I can't control it, it just came out.

Sad to see Assistant Vitamin Curator Vincent go back to the city. A bright, entertaining and intelligent young man, I'm sure he'll go far. He's back Friday though and shall be running Vince's Caff from the flat house.

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Maria, Me and the happy farmers
Maria, Me and the happy farmers

Dear Adam

I’ve decided to put an embargo on blog title puns as it’s become a tourettes syndrome condition which focuses the entire mind on the title of the blog instead of its content.

Today was a full schedule starting early with a lesson in the English Fry Up, or at least a fairly refined version with bacon, scrambled eggs and homemade bread toasted and drizzled with local homemade honey. The M&S marketing team would have been proud. Indeed, we seem to have momentarily become a training organisation for the company staff, which is semi-unsatisfactory in some ways but, the personnel get a lot out of it and it seems to spread the message of why we are here across Nanling far better than other means. And Xinghai seems delighted with the food as dialogue model, so we’ll stick with it.

I’ve been working on a poster for Saturday with the local calligrapher, not the high end moody gestural genius local calligrapher, but the Brian from Dalton tell it straight calligrapher. There has been a three day discussion with him, me, Jiaying and Xinghai over content, meaning and marketing strategy, which is all going to condense in a hand made A2 sheet of paper. There is no printer here in the village, so we are just making three with brush and ink. But the joy is that you put one up on each of the three official notice boards and everyone reads it. Apparently. After a meeting tonight where he sketched out the layout meticulously in pencil, he took it home to work on and will return with it tomorrow am.

Brian has made the maypole and the maypole looks good. It’s portable and is made out of bamboo so doesn’t look like a maypole at all really, more like a tree support in the Yu garden. Will test it out tomorrow. Welcome open discussion on the merits of trans-national folk references, post-ironic poles, the pleasure principle within public spectacle and the shelf life of such approaches.

Vincent made a great lunch for us today in the hotel bar. It was like Jamie Oliver in an eastern parallel universe. Some nice fish, some lovely noodles and some budiful tofu, well pukka. He’s been a breath of fresh air since he arrived – helpful, funny, enthusiastic, full of energy and most of all gets the project completely and helps sell it to the locals. His energy and validation of the project has given us all a boost just when we were starting to fray a little. He’s got to go back tomorrow at 6.00am but was trying to find a way to stay, he’s got to see his lecturer for his MA thesis on contemporary Chinese Art and the Spectacle and work on a new video show in Guangzhou museum but thinks our project is more interesting. He’s back Friday with Sue and more goodies. They are going to take us to a Guangzhou club when we get back to civilisation and put all those Harold Beyonce moves to good use – but maybe not as it could be too Parents at a wedding disco roadshow.

This afternoon Maria, Vincent and I went back down to the organic farm to talk some more about what they might do. We have moved away from dressing the room for the moment as actually discussing the concept and ideas was more interesting to them than making a photo shoot – that’s all detail that can come later they seem to say. We were joined by Jiaying, Xinghai and a journalist from a geography magazine who is here reporting and very interested in what we are doing. He is going to follow us roud and interview us at the weekend.
We did find a previously hidden room filled with what we think is really cool retro communist furniture, but it is clear there is a huge gulf between our idea of good furniture and theirs. Also whilst we think that ping fang 50’s stuff looks great, sort of red army Isokon, to them it just reeks of workhouse flats in the city. Black laquer is the ‘true’ county look. But I’ve yet to see any round here yet.

In the conversation we came on leaps and bounds and finally got over the hurdle of them thinking we were like the man from del Monte or that we were looking to invest, and that we were actually here out of our own interest and public good and art and to ultimately help our village etc. It took a while to work out the accurate position, neither business nor charity, but floating somewhere between. We are not in this for profit, but we don’t want to be a charity (although technically we are) handing out help for no return. Out return is the exchange of ideas and the chance to make life better back home through this exchange, to influence development in the Lake District in better ways than more bednights, more tourists and the largest cheap cheese factory in Europe (yes that’s a Cumbria Vision vision). You could see the penny start to drop and they are very enthusiastic to develop something or to work with artists, the company etc to push forward, but as long as it is for the benefit of the whole community. “Maybe you are socialists?” They are the Yew Tree Farm of Nanling, but possibly more interesting and with a wider range of products for sure.

They served us there own specially grown tea, a new product which is made from the most special tree in the region. At the moment they only have saplings but are looking to step this up. It is so special that they don’t label this tree to prevent it being stolen. The tea is said to have special powers, especially for cancer, and of course tastes like sour medicine. I’ve asked for the Latin name of the plant, but it looks like hemlock to me.

They have also just opened a dried food stall in the market yesterday, which looks exactly like all the other dried food stalls next to it. I am yet to figure this one out beyond a pre-capitalist hangover of equality. Ther stuff is great – mushrooms, peanuts, fish, dried fruit and super sweet sunblushed cherry tomatoes. The special tea he sells under the counter to his mates and he gave me a bag from the back of his van in town and I duly sloped off: well sorted for teas and whiz.

Walking back from dinner at Joes in the square, we heard music coming from a basket ball court next to the theatre. Sure enough it was the dancing girls practising for Saturday. They are taking this seriously but also enjoying it, it seems. They had wheeled out a TV and DVD into the court outside and were copying the moves on film. Quite a touching sight. They asked for a CD of Scottish Dance music to keep up the tradition after we leave – maybe you could email/yousendit some better tracks? After practice Jai, Jay and me sat inside the Workers Union with them,r a circle of cackling women and me the only male except for a giant statue of Mao looking at me from the corner. I’m hoping Jay got it on film – me and ten women talking about birth control before a giant bust of Mao.

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At the Worker's Union HQ last night, they were practicing hard for Saturday's big event. That's a few dance medals they won- they claim they're ready to take us on, you can hear the trepidation in Alistair's voice.

The Worker's Union was set up in 1958 and they meet now and then to play mah jong, dance and just hang out- not really any political intent these days. They told us that the one child policy is slightly more lenient for village folk (Five Fingers being a town) who may have a second child without any threat of penalisation. Jiaying tells me that this is for those who are registered by their parents as being born in a village at birth. This means some folk out in Guangzhou and other cities registered as villagers may have a second child without need for the snip or emptier pockets. The bust of Mao set a nice backdrop as the women showed interest in Alistair's fine Western stature and tale of his four sons- a Chinese wet dream for carrying on the lineage.

Topics: [Saturday 17th May event]

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