"Waiter! This hot towel isn't hot enough. Please bring me a hotter one" - Tiger Father.
OK, this sounds bad, but after many visits to our favourite Beijing restaurant, I've grown used to refreshing my face with the lovely hot towels they bring us. Last week, the towel wasn't hot, plain and simple. They've spoiled us, made us accustomed to a certain experience, which they failed to deliver. So while my comment might have drawn some looks from those present, it's all the restaurant's fault, really.
OK, this sounds bad. But it was weird. Last week we flew to China's southernmost extremity, tropical Hainan Island, for a long weekend. There we discovered a strange phenomenon known as the "This pool's really hot" phenomenon. You know how when it's very hot and humid and you plunge into a pool and go "Aaaah"? This one you plunged into and went "Eeeurgh!" It was like taking a dip in some primordial soup. Noone could tell us why. Management insisted they weren't pumping in hot water. We theorised it might have been linked to the fact tap water in the hotel came from a spring, which may have been hot. In any event, we weren't about to have our break ruined. So, yes, we moved. And no, the next hotel pool wasn't much better.
"You know it really, really, is hard to get good domestic help these days" - Tiger Father.
OK, this sounds atrocious. But I've explained how most expats in China have a housemaid, right? They're known as an Ayi, or "aunty", and for just a little money they make the challenges of living in China, away from your normal support structures, a bit less challenging. This they achieve by doing things like washing and cleaning, minding the children, shopping, and hand-feeding me grapes. Well, upon coming home to try to recover from our warm pool horror, we suffered another setback when we learned our Ayi had quit. So now I'm searching for another one, while also looking after daughter Evie, who's off school today. As I simply can't work under these conditions, this has all been a long-winded way of saying there'll be a normal, longer post, later in the week.
Your long-suffering correspondent.