If you go down to the woods today …

This week I was highly disturbed to discover that, in a long blond wig, I look just like a transvestite –

I spent the entire weekend in an itchy, sweaty wig pretending to be some sort of dodgy, senescent version of Goldilocks – and all in the name of Hallowe’en dress-up weekend.

Have you ever spent considerable amounts of time with your hand stuffed up a large bear?  That’s also a very sweaty experience, believe me.

But once I’d sorted the wig and the bear, I just needed a frock, frilly socks and a bowl of porridge and I was good to go.

Oh well, at least the children knew who I was … unlike Frodo – back row far left –

who was mistaken for Ed Sheeran.

But the whole thing was a bit much for Daddy Bear, who went AWOL on Sunday evening and was later found in the staff room –

– rather the worse for wear.

And it turns out that I didn’t need the wig anyway – the children think my own hair is golden.  Any colour lighter than black is described as blond or golden; there’s no such thing as ash, platinum, honey, caramel, auburn, mouse … we’re all blond.

Meanwhile, rehearsals continue for the end of year concert.  The younger children get together every morning to form the Choir of the Damned (their teacher’s description, not mine) and then howl and screech their way through the repertoire of songs for the show.

If you’d like a taster, just click below –

 

and if that’s whetted your appetite, the CD will be available in time for Christmas.

 

 

 

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Phew, what a scorcher!

The temperature in Malaysia doesn’t seem to stray far from 32 degrees, with humidity around 70%.  It’s usually sunny in the morning, and there’s often rain later in the day – but this week has been an exception.

Last Tuesday we went to the Helilounge to celebrate Julia’s birthday.  It’s a helipad by day and a bar by night, with no shelter at all, so we were hoping for good weather to enjoy the sunset and the views in the evening.  When we  arrived  we congratuated ourselves on having chosen such a wonderful evening:

sunny to begin with –

 

then a spectacular sunset –

and finally, a perfect balmy night –

Little did we know that this was the beginning of a whole series of hot sunny days, spectacular sunsets and balmy nights … and they’ve been getting hotter and balmier every day.

I couldn’t walk to work, it was too hot – even at nine o’clock in the morning – and there was no rain at all … unheard of in KL.

Then finally on Monday, after a week of heat, messages started appearing on the Internet –

 

Heatstroke and exploding petrol tanks sounded rather alarming, so I went online to do some research, and discovered that we had all been the victim of fake news.  The Met Office vehemently denied the stories circualting on social media, and said that the temperature was merely 36 degrees, and one degree short of an offical heatwave (try telling that to the Brits – we have a heatwave at 26 degrees).

 

 

But the Met Office did concede that the weather has been, and will contine to be, unusually hot.

But far from being due to strange movements of the sun as it shimmies across the equator, it’s simply the fallout from a typhoon in Japan.  Fake news is always so much more exciting than real news.

So we’re set for a few more days of excessive heat, and for the first time since I arrived, I’ve found myself thinking wistfully of fog and frost and even a light sprinkling of snow.

Oh well, time for a swim to cool down, and then a nice chilled evening in front of the air conditioning unit.

 

 

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The oldest Viking in town

This week one of my pupils asked how old I was when the Vikings invaded Britain.

I like to think that this is because my description of the Anglo-Saxons standing on the cliffs watching the long boats heading for the shore was so vivid that she  thought I was actually there myself – rather than because she thinks I look over a thousand years old.

And anyway, if I am ageing at an alarming rate, it’s these children who are entirely to blame for adding so much stress to my life.

This week the Vomiter returned to my class after an absence of about four months.  I’d got out of the habit of leaping out of her way as she began heaving and chundering in my direction, so it was a bit of a blow to discover that she was returning, and once again I need to make sure I am never cornered without emergency access to the bin, the book box or – as a last resort – her school bag.

Although on the plus side, the two criminal masterminds in the class, who take delight in disobeying me and crawling into the cupboard to hide, soon crawled out again when the Vomiter crawled in behind them, complaining loudly about the smell of vomit.

But I have discovered a new game which will be ideal for this class –

 

– anyone ever played hide and sick?

And whoever thought that finger painting was a suitable activity for a class of three and four year-olds, was either inexperienced, idealistic or just plain warped.  It took more time to clean up than it took for them to meticulously cover the entire table in paint –

But these kids do a great job of confounding any potential gender stereotyping.

Here is one of the boys working on his finger painting, each finger carefully dipped into a different colour, to keep all the colours separate –

And here are the girls at work –

 

Am thinking of putting this masterpiece up for sale, but can’t decide whether it should be called Frenzy in the Fonics Class, or Phrenzy in the Phonics Class.

 

 

 

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The High Life

There’s an intriguing sign on the wall in the swanky Royal Selangor Club in KL –

Since the club – all mock Tudor and with a waiting list as long as your average Malaysian spitting cobra –

is a bastion of male chauvinism, I assumed that the wacky-baccy boudoir would be strictly men only, so I didn’t go exploring.

But it did make me realise that everything in KL is about getting high.  You only have to look at a model of the city –

to understand that being at ground level is SO last year over here.

So, ever one to keep up with the trends, I have been concentrating on getting high.

My first attempt was frankly disastrous.  I went on a hike with my hiking buddies Pat and Frankie, and we met a retired couple who told us they were going up to a Buddhist shrine on the hill.

‘We’ll go with you,’ said Pat, rashly.

The retired couple promptly set off up a vertical incline like a couple of mountain goats, springing effortlessly from one boulder to the next.  I followed with all the grace and agility of a mountain walrus, puffing and sweating and clinging to tree roots, branches, and anything else that was going to stop me from making a rapid and undignified descent down the hill head first.

Luckily the survivors’ photo doesn’t show quite how puce and sweaty I was by the time we got there.

I got high much more successfully yesterday, when Brenda and I made it to the 86th floor of the Petronas Towers without breaking a sweat –

– and then celebrated our achievement with Prosecco on the 57th floor of an adjoining tower –

I’ve decided that I’m all for the high life … as long as there are elevators provided.

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A week of firsts

In first place of all the firsts, I have to announce that I am no longer a durian virgin.

I have almost bought durian so many times, and then lost my nerve at the last minute – but Lauren was with me and determined to try it, so this time there was no going back.  The stallholder had thoughtfully provided disposable gloves, as the smell is notoriously pervasive, and the fewer parts of your body that touch the durian, the better, it would seem.

So – I took a deep breath and tried it …

The texture is thick and custardy; it reminded me of blancmange or a patisserie cream with something pungent and rotting stirred into it.  But the outside is plastic-y and rather like biting into edible cling film … bizarre.

I wasn’t sure what to make of it, really – but decided that I don’t hate it, so that’s a step in the right direction.

I also went up the Petronas Towers for the first time and, despite reading that the design is based on several Islamic motifs, I believe that the architect was heavily influenced by the daleks.

I celebrated my Petronas visit by having a barbecued frog when I got to the bottom –

– and jolly delicious it was too.

Then, in a moment of pure serendipity, we arrived at a cocktail bar to watch the sunset, and discovered that they offer free cocktails to ladies on Wednesday nights only.  And here is Lauren enjoying her free Berry Margharita

I have also had my first visit to a luxury toilet, which I felt I had to try in the name of research.

The hostess, in a bow tie, gives you your official ticket (2 Ringgits = 40p-ish), and your welcome wet wipes –

But apart from some artificial flowers around the wash basins,

it looked pretty much like any other ladies loo –

Talking of loos, I’ve always thought that the signs you see everywhere telling you not to stand on the seat were a bit of a joke –

Surely nobody needs to be taught how to use a loo?

But at the shopping centre this week, I saw the first sign that these notices are not as redundant as I’d thought …

… definitely footprints.

And as I nervously approach my first winter in Malaysia, I’m pleased to see that the locals are taking the impending cold season very seriously.  The temperature can apparently plummet by one whole degree Celsius, so I was relieved to find that the shops are full of –

coats …

scarves …

and hats …

… just in case I need to wrap up warmly in December, which is the coldest month of the year in KL.

So that’s all right, then – one more worry ticked off the list.

 

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Enriching my vocabulary, and the wrong sort of launderette …

I’ve learnt a new word … apostasy.

 

I felt the need to look it up when it featured in the headlines of all the newspapers recently.

With headlines like ‘The Punishment for Apostasy is Death‘,  I felt that I should know what it is, so that I could avoid inadvertantly apostasising in the future.

I was slightly cheered to read that they can’t actually enforce the penalty at the moment, due to Malaysia’s federal laws –

 

But in the small print we were assured that they are seeking to remove this restriction via a private member’s Bill in Parliament – and it has been suggested that atheists should also be ‘hunted down’.

In Malaysia you’re not allowed NOT to have a religion – you can be a Buddhist, a Taoist, a Catholic and so on, but you have to be something.  Everyone must publicly declare which camp they’re in, and nobody’s allowed to be Switzerland.  You can change religions and convert … unless you’re a Muslim, as being a Muslim is a bit like being a king or queen of Narnia.

There was a handy flowchart online, showing the futility of attempting to renounce your religion, complete with a picture of gallows and noose at the bottom as a stark reminder.

 

I wasn’t surprised to read that there were no records of any application to renounce Islam, and that no Malay Muslims had ever applied to change their religious status … why would you?

This week, I was pleased to see that the Sultan has waded into a discrimination row and told the owner of a launderette that he can’t display a ‘Muslim customers only’ sign.

I also like the idea of the Cabinet deciding that ‘such segregation will not wash’ – glad they’ve retained their sense of humour.

I am, however, rather bemused by the reason given for the discrimination

Reasons of cleanliness?  I thought that the whole point of a launderette was that nothing is clean when it arrives, and everything is clean when it leaves.  So why would Muslim washing be any different from anyone else’s washing?  I’m obviously missing something here.

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