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  • : Blog on being a disabled person, different cultures, diversity, equality, disability, travel, being diaspora Chinese and disabled travel.
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Here are some of my photos. This shows some of my travels.


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Books I am reading

Xiaolu Guo
A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers
A love story - cultural differences, misunderstandings and yes, I see what she is saying.
Su Tong
Binu and the Great Wall

Binu and the Great Wall

Binu And The Great Wall is a wonderful myth retold in the words of Su Tong, the author of ‘Rice’.  The myth of Binu and how her tears washed away the Great Wall have been passed down through the ages. It is a tale of hardship, brutality and undying love. Su Tong’s version of the myth, brings to the reader the harshness and brutality that led to the constuction of the wall and the terrible effects it had on the common people.

24 août 2008 7 24 /08 /août /2008 18:09
Well not quite because I do go to other cultural events during the year but it felt like that.

I went on my own. My tastes can be eccletic. Not wishing to compromise on my choice of shows for someone elses taste in music/dance/shows nor limiting events due to venue inaccessiblity for others. It is also good to have the freedom to meander..

Some of the best things were free - such as the shows or little trailers on the Royal Mile. I was not very good at making decisions about what to see and for the first day, was just trying to sort out how to read the programmes, figure out where the venues were and their accessibility.

Here are some of my impressions of the shows I did manage to see:

InvAsian Festival: Coral's Red Dance & Kimho Ip's Music

I really did not know what to expect when I got there  but  I was  pleasantly  surprised to hear the hammered dulcimer of Kimho Ip  and even more to hear Chinese poetry recited  in Cantonese during a cheroegraphed dance with three woman. I wanted to ask more questions, for instance there was a part where two of the dancers were linked together by a thread tied at the ankle and held taut. What did that symbolise? And at the end of the dance sequence,  one woman dancer carried out the other - how was that and why?

I did manage to speak to
Coral afterwards where she told me of her enjoyment of choreographing. I did not think of asking her those questions.

InvAsian Festival: Vismayaha

Vibrant dancing, colourful costumes and tales of Krishna and his women. There is a child dancing too - representing the young krishna. There is also a non Indian woman (might be two of them) and some celtic music mixed in. I was slightly confused  at times.  There was also a male dancer very  strong balancing  a water pot on his head and  on a metallic plate. Thoroughly enjoyable and lively with an appreciative audience.

clubWEST@quincentenary Hall, Royal College of Surgeons ( this venue has one steep step to get in - there are people around to help but it would be easier and would not be difficult for them to have a temporary ramp).


Nick Mohammed Is A Character Comedian

He is like a whirlwind - several characters all at once - I think there was a student, a hairdresser, an interviewer, an ESP lecturer. Slightly camp at times, man or woman? Cockney? posh?

The Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh (mostly accessible but very cobbley)



This had good reviews but there were times when I nearly fell asleep because the lights were so dim and the music throbbed - looking at the youtube video made me appreciate it better.

Angel and the Woodcutter

Angel and Woodcutter cast

Absolutely fantastic. There were many wet eyes at the end of the show. My favourite show at the festival - and the best performance for me was from the woman who played the mother. The story is very typically Korean - struggle between the mother in law and daughter in law over the son. And the heartbreaking disruptions of war on the family. There was a pivatol scene when Angel  accepted  her mother in law's  into  her life and  they went together in search for the conscripted son taking the baby with them.  I also loved  the way they manipulated the stuffed doll  into a very good  inpression of a toddler.  This dance is very graphic and  there is humour, energy, and the  rape scene  which  was very real in its portrayal.

Kamui  Spirit of the Samurai

Samurai swordplay from the 'Kill Bill*'s fight choreographer.. As a reviewer said, the start was impressive but after a while it got a bit repetitive. I wondered at the presence of the girl - her sole purpose was to look pretty and be the reason for a fight. I thought in a Chinese kungfu sequence, the women would be equal fighters not just be objects for gallantry and to be rescued.

@ Zoo Southside ( accessible from a side ramp which leads to a back entrance. The lift is quite small)

There were many shows I wanted to see but in three days with the rainy weather and negotiating the venues and meeting friends, I think I did quite well. I am sorry I missed Chess a dance tragedy from Taiwan but Universal Arts Theatre was said to be inaccessible with several steps.

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26 juillet 2008 6 26 /07 /juillet /2008 18:41
I cannot remember the last time I went to an open air theatre  and certainly  the last Shakespearean  play outdoors was some more than 20 years at Ludlow Castle and it was Macbeth. I was carried across the  field by a stranger because it was so muddy after the rain. 

Anyhow I suggested to Penny who came up from Reading way - that we met up in London to see Twelfth Night - one of my favourite plays - at Regents Park. We decided to go to the afternoon showing. What I did not know was that there were rail works and a journey which normally took 1 hour and 15 mins took nearly 3 hours and went via Ealing Broadway. Still I got there and we met up on Baker Street, had lunch and caught up on news.

The cast was superb and I thought it was excellently done. My one disappointment was the person who played Viola, who seems to shriek through the play and while she is supposed to be foil to Olivia, she did not match or come close to it. The actress who played Olivia was well within her element and I am sure the resemblance to Madonna was not a coincidence. My favourite was Feste the jester. He was really good in playing the fool and singing the serious airs.

Here is a photo of Maria, Olivia's serving lady and Feste before one of the staff told me I was not supposed to take photos.

Regents Park Twelfth Night - Maria and Feste
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6 janvier 2008 7 06 /01 /janvier /2008 02:20
Keith Armstrong posted this youtube - thanks, Keith!  its great to know! I love the music too.

It is worth going to youtube to read the citations he gave. And when it is disability culture on youtube here is also Petra Kuppers " An Olimpias Disability Culture Project. A Collaboration between Lakshmi Fjord (audio-description), Petra Kuppers (poetry), Neil Marcus (audio improvisation), Lisa Steichmann (photography), Sadie Wilcox
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24 octobre 2007 3 24 /10 /octobre /2007 21:43
From one play to the next. And they are very different plays. I saw Flower Girls at Hampstead Theatre in London.

I probably felt much more because the subject is closer to home about disabled women. Reminds me of Malaysia as it  is still now for disabled people and in China.

As for the play, there were times I got a bit lost as they flit between the ages as the unraveling of the girl's stories unfolds. I don't think it was all that effortless. But I was riveted  nervetheless. It shows a community of women - disabled or not - they support each other, back bite and were company and hell all at once.

After the play, I think there was a remark about the loss of the camaraderie of places like The Crippleage because now people live on their own in their own houses or apartments. Maybe I am a solitary person but I prefer my own space. But then i was never a girl gang type of person. Growing up in a mostly non disabled world, its exclusion and when I was young I never wanted to be counted among the disabled. Too busy trying to prove I was ' normal' and in denial about my disability and needs.

And of course, my hat is to Sophie  Partridge whom I met after the play  in the bar!

Graeae, Britain's foremost disabled-led theatre company, joins forces with The New Wolsey Theare Ipswich to present the world premiere of Richard Cameron's latest play.
Flower Girls is the funny, beautifully observed and uplifting story of a group of disabled women who live and work at The Crippleage, Edgware. Inspired by the personal testimony and reminiscences of real-life Flower Girls, the play shifts effortlessly between the unsettled early years of World War II and the seemingly more liberated world of 1965.

A little back-ground...
In 1866, a 21-year old apprentice engraver called John Groom decided that he must take action to tackle the shocking plight of destitute and disabled women and children in the City of London .
John Groom was strongly motivated by his Christian faith and together with other members of his family this was an essential part of his work and life. His beliefs and Christian commitment continue to play a central part in the mission of John Grooms today.

John Groom was well ahead of his time in recognising the need to break the cycle of dependency for people with disabilities. His philanthropy went beyond generous giving, initially he hired rooms in Harp Alley for the Watercress and Flower Girls Mission which provided food and shelter.

He was, however, keen to do something more permanent and productive. He proposed that the disabled girls and women make hand-made flowers to sell on the streets. This was so successful that he developed a whole industry, enabling the girls and young women to become self-supporting, a revolutionary concept for Victorian England. The hand-made flower industry flourished and soon their products could be found at exhibitions and flower days across the country.

Such was the success of the flower making that by 1908, over 250 women were employed in the Seckforde Street factory and their fame spread countrywide. It was to John Grooms flower girls whom Queen Alexandra turned to make 13 million emblems for the first ever Alexandra Rose Day on 26 June 1912, which became a regular order for many decades.
In 1932, John Grooms built a new set of homes and work rooms in Edgware. It was a flagship project, comprising workrooms for flower-making, together with accommodation and gardens. It began a development programme that continues up to this day.
John Grooms no longer makes artificial flowers. The principles of independence and choice continue to be the central focus of modern day John Grooms. Today, its work includes nursing and residential care, holidays, training and housing.
Although now two separate organisations, JGHA and John Grooms, with their Head Office in the same building, both maintain the visionary ethos that motivated John Groom when he first began his missionary work back in 1866.


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20 octobre 2007 6 20 /10 /octobre /2007 23:26
This is rather late for a review but I did not have time to write about it before. I went to see Mr Puntila and His Man Matti with Anne Marie at the Belgrade last month. I was given some complimentary ticketrs so I thought I'd go check out the theartre and its accessiility.

Mr Puntilla has a drink problem – he doesn’t drink enough! When he’s drunk, he is affectionate and generous. When he’s drunk, he is affectionate and generous. When sober, he is mean and miserly. Mr. Puntila’s sardonic manservant, Matti, has the onerous task of managing the chaos that ensues when his master’s split personality impacts on his business and his family.Directed by Hamish Glen, this classic comedy features one of Bertolt Brecht's greatest comedic characters, played by David Hargreaves.

To tell the truth, I was also curious, having met Hamish Glen at the Liquid Bar - to see what the play he directed would be like. Saffron and her friend was also going on the same night but we had to sit in a box because there were no seats for companions otherwise. They did apologise and I got another lot of complimentary tickets as a result. The boxed seats were quite far at the back and there was not much leg space  which meant that I was not completely over the moon . I was feeling rather tired and I ended up decidedly grumpy - the first part of the play left me cold. The others enjoyed it far more than I did. I did like the captioning although I couldnt read it well from our seats.

I enjoyed the second half much more, I could hear the words much clearer. Was I imagining it or did Mr Puntila eunciate better? Anne Marie said he was supposed to be drunk most of the time which should explain why his speech is slurred.

I think it wasn t the acting - it is the fact that I am not a Brecht fan and I couldnt get into the plot at all. The capitalist vs the socialist stuff seems a bit outdated to me post Mao.

 I shall go again to the Belgrade and will re evaluate the theatre experience a la Belgrade.
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4 octobre 2007 4 04 /10 /octobre /2007 17:33
I have been busy trying to catch up after being in Newcastle for a meeting and then down to London for another meeting and spending sometime in Walton on Thames with a friend. One of his African PAs  remarked that he was living in the bush which caused us a great deal of mirth that she compared Walton on Thames  to  the African bush but I am not so sure that it is wrong seeing that it is in the sticks and the buses are not accessible. I am too used to Coventry - that I can at a pinch get somewhere if there is public transport.

In the meantime, when I am not wasting time on Facebook (I really do not have that many friends or spend much time there) I go searching on youtube for treasures and I stumble on this two - an old film with Chow Yun Fatt (before his Hollywood fame), 縱橫四海 (Catch a Thief) where he does a dance with a wheelchair - now, in the film, hes not really disabled but I think he's cute in it.

T  The other is a Chinese sign language clip  from a film supposedly named ' Silent Love' 聽不到的說話 - so sweet. It is a George Lam song.分分鐘需要你

I also watched Zhang Yimou ' House of Flying Daggers' with Zhang Ziyi  on channel four  last week.  As usual, she is superb to watch.  But at the back of my mind , I was  trying to gauge how  a Chinese audience view this as disability. Given that neither Chow Yun Fatt nor Zhang Ziyi were only pretending to be disabled in their characters - this two films would not stand up to much but what about the other kungfu movies?
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18 juillet 2007 3 18 /07 /juillet /2007 01:21
Talk about disability culture. theres a phenomenon in Sweden called Boys on wheels - where the singers are all in power wheelchairs and they sing such song titles as "My balls are okay" and "Making love in a handicap toilet"
Anyway here is "New boys on the block" They make fun of themselves anyway.
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14 juillet 2007 6 14 /07 /juillet /2007 02:52
At last I found it on you tube. When I was a teenager, I loved Ivy Ling Po's huangmei opera movies. especially the Love Eterne.  (梁山伯与祝英台)This is the reason why I missed out on the 60's western music, i was never a fan of the Beatles then - I had my head deep in Chinese and Cantonese opera.

You tube URL for Love Eterne clip

This is the Chinese  Romeo and Juliet  - lots of cross dressing.  
A young 16 yr old girl, Zhu Yingtai, managed to convince her parents to send her to college at Hangzhou on the condition that she went in the guise of a man. Along her journey to the college, she met 17 yr old Liang Shanbo who was also attending the same school as her. They became sworn brothers and studied for 3 years together. Over this period of time, they formed a strong friendship. Yingtai gradually fell in love with Shanbo, who being a bookworm, never did discover what she was despite coming across a couple of oddities. When she was summoned home by her father, Yingtai revealed the truth to her headmaster's wife. Yingtai requested that she be the matchmaker for her and Shanbo and gave her a jade pendent as a token to be handed to Shanbo.

Shanbo walked with Yingtai for 18 miles to send off his sworn brother. She tried several times to hint to him her identity during the journey but to no avail despite insulting him twice in her exasperation with his denseness. Finally, she found a way and got his consent to matchmake him to her "twin sister". She exhorted him to seek out his fiance soon before they reluctantly took leave of each other at the pavilion where they first met. Upon returning to school, Shanbo was restless and could not concentrate on his studies in the absence of his sworn brother. Seeing this, the headmaster's wife told him about Yingtai, gave him the jade pendent and bade him to go propose to her.

The joy of the reunion of the two came to nought when Yingtai told Shanbo he was 3 months too late. Her father had already bethrothed her to the frivolous son of the powerful and wealthy Ma family. Shanbo, who was already ailing, was deeply grieved. He returned home and his health steadily deteriorated until he became seriously ill. Several days before her wedding day, he asked to see her again. When his servant returned instead with a token from her, it was the final blow. He sent his servant to Yingtai with a last gift and died. Yingtai was strickened with sorrow and forced her father to come to a compromise : to allow her to visit Shanbo's tomb on the way to her bethrothed's home or she would not marry. At the tomb, she swore her undying love for Shanbo and that if they could not be together in life, she would rather be with him in death. A tornado sprang up and an earthquake split the tomb in two whereupon Yingtai threw herself into it. The whipping winds covered the tomb with sand. When the winds died down, two butterflies were seen soon after, flitting away to the heavens.

                         (from wikipedia)
This story is also the inspiration for the Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto. (First movement)
I wonder if this is so typical - Yingtai met her dream man because she wanted to study and she could only go in the guise of a male. Being a scholar is not suitable for a woman. But Shanbo (also played by a woman, Ling Po) had no clue and did not come to the rescue but was late, thus condemning them both to a tragic end. Definitely not macho.

To this day, I still go around humming huangmei tunes. I wonder when I was that age-it was easier to fall for women playing male parts. However, I guess theres always been cross dressing in chinese opera.
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10 août 2006 4 10 /08 /août /2006 23:11
When I was growing up i grew up listening to Cantonese opera. It was my main staple rather than the beatles, Bee Gees and the like. I did not understand the texts but I say along and I could hum to all the major arias. I fell under the spell of Yam Kim Fei and Bak Suet Sin and their disciples Loong Kim Sung and Mui Suet Si. Like everybody my favourite was Tai Nui Fah - Di Nu Hua.


Of course this was made later into Princess Cheung Ping by the one and only John Woo - famous for other type of movies.
I was so happy when I chanced upon the video clips on youtube. I  can watch this ad nauseum and still love it. - it can put me into a trance and I can watch back to back operas.

One day when I retire I will go and study Chinese so that I can appreciate them to the full.
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4 janvier 2005 2 04 /01 /janvier /2005 00:00
Today, I spent some time watching one of the joint Christmas presents for John and I which was a set of three dvds - The One Armed Swordsman series.

the one armed swordsman dvd cover  wang yu as one armed swordsman
(Review and photos)
The "One Armed Swordsman" is one of the first movies with a "cripple"as a hero and a super cripple. I think I like the "New One Armed Sworsdman"best as it has David Chiang and Ti Lung in it.   This digitised dvds brought me back to my teenage days when I would go home for lunch after school (school finished at lunchtime) and straightaway head for the cinema (sometimes still in my school uniform. I used to have a bicycle in those days with stabilisers to help me get on and off. The ticket sellers had no problems with me bring ing my bicycle almost to the room door and leaving it just outside for the first available seat in the air conditioned room. I must have watched all of Ti Lung and David Chiang's movies. My love for kungfu films date from those days. But my old time favourite is "Come Drink with me" with Cheng Pei Pei. Here is a very good review of it. What I like about this movie is that the heroine is a fully fleshed out character and extremely effective as a swordswoman and is willing to learn from others.

"The story doesn't have as much punch today as it might have in 1966 since elements of it have resurfaced over and over again, but effectively casting a female in the lead is actually less common today then in the '50 and '60's era of Hong Kong. A 19-year old Cheng Pei Pei was cast by Hu to play Golden Swallow, the twin short sword-wielding protagonist who is sent to free her brother, a government official, from the grasp of ruthless bandits. Their aim is to have their leader freed in exchange, but Pei Pei lets them know, in a famous teahouse fight, that its not going to be played that way. The opening battle is actually the film's most memorable one. In a moment that has since been repeated in countless genre films, Pei Pei arrogantly displays her skills to a group of the bandits through several acts of supernatural ability. But, we soon learn that even her incredible skill is shadowed by an even greater hero who passes himself as a drunken beggar as played by Yueh Hua. "

poster for Come Drink with me

Most western and younger audience only know her from her role in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Jade Fox.

cheng pei pei

An interview with Cheng Pei Pei by Walter Chaw.
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