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Monday, 17 April 2017

The Silk Road 1

Well imagine my disappointment when, instead of the Dreamliner of my dreams, or the 747 of my fears (I really don't trust 4 engines after watching the gremlins episode - 50's or 60's version -  of the Twilight Zone) I'm going to be spending ten hours on a 777. A 777?  - are you serious? I'm an international traveller abroad on business, an academic, a Professore Magistere, a bohemian, a vagabond, an international man of mystery, a blogger, an intercultural raconteur....strewth (a rapidly ageing Englishism usually used as a frusrated aspirate which mean 'God's truth' and stands for  'By God's Truth, I won't tolerate this' , but my first thoughts were  "I'm not a fucking tourist on a package holiday"). However, I stand corrected although more accurately I could say that I lay, slept and ate corrected throughout a very comfortable flight.  

Clearly my hosts (for lets not forget I am here, being hosted, on an academic mission)  disagree and on the first day we are treated, successively, and about an hour after a fifteen hour journey,  to my worst nightmares - a trip to a market, a trip to a shopping mall for dinner and then as he pinnacle of the evening, a trip to a pub in a tourist area of ancient streets (which bear all the hallmarks of having been lovingly recreated)  where a pint o'beer  costs an eye watering eight pounds (equivalent).

But lets backtrack and discuss 'why' I am here. I am here, a mere ten years after starting this blog, because having accomplished my goal of being the joint second best academic in England, now I am anxious to exend that achievement globally. My guess is that joint fourteenth best academic in the world is within my grasp, but of course to reach this lofty goal, travel I must. Now,  it is true that my current travels are not organised- unlike my friend Jodie McJodie, the famous Canadian academic - around lofty issues like research. Some, indeed, would say that as a crude marketing exercise (my actual job is to interview international applicants to my University) , this trip is simple hackwork. Others would describe it in terms of 'the oldest profession' only on behalf of a corporate John. I accept these brickbats because without slings we would not have arrows, but reject them because now I am an actual academic I have discovered that its de rigour to have two utterly incompatible views at the same time and pretend that this is ok. So I claim that my work is vital and without it, Western civilisation and the accompanying  inexhorable march to global intellectual dominance of China, India and Korea would not succeed. Who, I ask, am I to stand in the way of this? So here I am, in Shanghai, slightly jetlagged but at least not filling out a billion forms demanded of UK Higher Education,  and ready to spread knowledge (especially knowledge of my opi 'Evolution :When?' 'Civilization: Why? ' and 'Apocalpse: How?) far and slightly further.

What can I say about Shanghai? Well, its big, Really really big. Like very big but only if you take the words 'very' and 'big' seriously. If you do, its that big.

What more can I say. Well not much apart from that in the years since I last blogged a number of new nemesi or nemeses have arisen with the intriguing names of Turnip Face, Shiny, Detail Guy (who's not a guy), Dave. Also new friends have been found including The Brescian, The Intellectual, Vaffanculo and Hot Josef. If, and its a big if, I continue to do this regularly, I'll introduce these rapscallians and heroes, these Aristotles (that's a bad thing by the way) and Plato's , these Cromwells and Cromwells..but for now its photos from Shanghai, a beautiful city in only the way super cities can be...

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