I had been aiming to limit myself to something more like 20-25 recommendations for the first quarter of this year, but..... well, March was a bumper month (it was an especially fertile period for my 'Where in the world am I?' strand, which was about to be brought to an end by my revelation that I was indeed living in China). And once I'd put something down on the 'provisional' list, I just couldn't bring myself to discard it again. I fear I am just not ruthless enough for this.
I would hope that enthusiastic readers might find the stamina to work through most of my output eventually. I would particularly urge you to read through the 'Label' categories in the side-bar.
Naturally, Poetry (my own) is the section I would most wish to find an appreciative readership. And - whatever qualities my poems may lack - they do have the advantage of being short.
I am also quite proud of the 'Where in the world am I?' series. Although I used to give this label also to my occasional routinely diaristic pieces (that almost invariably allude to the difficulties of life in China for a foreigner), I should perhaps more properly have confined the category to the posts on China that I wrote in a deliberately 'anonymized' style (usually beginning with the cryptic formula "I live in a country where...."). There were only 44 of these, and I think they represent some of the best writing on this blog.
Anyway, I will try to render this next list of 'top picks' a bit more manageable by dividing it into two batches. Enjoy.
Pick of the Archive: Favourite Posts, Jan. - March '07 (Part 1)
1) The Country That Taste Forgot (Where in the world am I? ) - 30th March
Some observations on Chinese musical tastes - or the lack thereof.
2) The sense of loss - 29th March
A favourite passage from the determinedly 'poetic' Irish novelist, John Banville, reminds me of a Great Lost Love.
3) Yes, but WHO are you? (Where in the world am I? ) - 28th March
Shortcomings of Chinese telephone technique - illustrated with a transcription of an actual call.
4) On a lighter note - 28th March
One of my favourite, silly 'love poems' - and it was classically inspired, to boot.
5) Death to the trees! (Where in the world am I? ) - 27th March
I am not by any means a "tree-hater" (as some of my detractors unfairly suggest), but there is a powerful - I would say overwhelming - argument that Beijing has too many trees, and this is it.
6) Everything returns.... - 26th March
One of my older poems, this; but one that I feel has stood the test of time well.
7) 101 Uses of a Sidewalk (Where in the world am I? ) - 24th March
If I had to choose only one 'Where in the world am I?' post for inclusion in a 'time capsule', I think this would be it.
8) First fruit - 23rd March
Multiple treasures here: a photograph, a thumbnail eulogy, links to several other worthwhile websites, and an excerpt from the wonderful Scots writer, Ivor Cutler.
9) A romantic haiku - 23rd March
This was a tribute to Great Lost Love, The Poet (hell, I wooed her with it!) - probably the most romantic thing I have ever written.
10) Supplement: Where queue-jumping really rankles (Where in the world am I? ) - 22nd March
This is the one 'China rant' that is obligatory for all foreigners living here; I hope that I have done a better job of it than most other 'China-bloggers' (a group I mostly disdain).
11) A long suppressed Roger Hargreaves title? (Where in the world am I? ) - 20th March
'Found humour' - I share some serendipitous silliness from my sessions in the recording studio.
12) More on The Evil One - 15th March
I indulge in more "painfully frank" autobiography about The Great Lost Love of my life, as a preamble to another of my older poems.
13) It doesn't ***** work! (Where in the world am I? ) - 13th March
A can-opener that doesn't open cans? Only in China!
14) The School for Henchmen - 13th March
One of my funniest, one of my weirdest posts - it all came to me in a dream, honestly.
15) The Good Cabbie (Where in the world am I? ) - 7th March
I celebrate an unexpected 'positive taxi experience', to reaffirm that the WITWAI? series isn't all 'rants'.
16) My kitchen is CRAP (Where in the world am I? ) - 6th March
Long, self-indulgent catharsis - one of my most tedious posts, I think, but still funny in parts.
17) Thought (motto?) of the week - 5th March
This, I think, is the best (so far) of my self-composed bon mots.
18) A happy discovery - 4th March
I happen upon a previously unknown and heart-breakingly marvellous piece of E.E. Cummings - and immediately feel compelled to share it with the world.