For any new readers who happen across this blog (closed down at the end of 2012), this is the best place to start exploring - a selection of my favourite pieces from six-and-a-bit years of blogging. I hope you'll enjoy browsing through some of these. [There's a similar roundup of highlights from my other blog here.]
A lifelong fan of Douglas Adams' The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy series, I believe I have discovered the solution to the books' central conundrum.
One of the reasons why queues at bank counters and supermarket checkouts move SO SLOWLY in China.
An hilarious - and bizarrely detailed - dream that came to me during a time of stress and fever.
A dozen nuggets of essential wisdom.
I disown 'humility' - at least when expressing my opinions.
I feel that Beijing has rather too many of the bloody things already.
If you hunger for some biographical background to your blogger, sink your teeth into this.
The approach of the Beijing Olympics provokes some reflections from me on the essence of security.
I translate a favourite piece by the Roman poet Catullus.
I wonder if newborn infants really do have the power to enslave us.
This one's already got its own spot in the sidebar, but I should include it here as well - it is the longest and most impassioned of my many posts on the Tiananmen protests of 1989.
I am not a fan of e-readers; give me a book any day!
But it makes a good start. One of my key posts on the institutional shortcomings that, in my view, will prevent China from ever becoming a truly great power.
I look back on a lifetime of film buffery, recalling the ten most intense emotional experiences I've had in a movie theatre.
One of my more bizarre (and discomfiting!) flights of fancy.
Although some of my best friends are artists, I get irritated when they describe themselves as such.
Some observations on being a schoolteacher (my first job after university).
I itemise the many shortcomings of China's least appealing traditional snack.
A couple of the funniest anecdotes from my teaching experience in Beijing.
I am Wile E. Coyote, obviously.
The thanklessness of trying to teach English in China...
My drinking buddies create a concept for a charitable NGO.
The end of the 'mosquito season' brings its distinctive torment.
Some of the great tough guy moments from the movies.
I catalogue the varieties of unsafe handling of fireworks one witnesses every Chinese New Year.
I consider getting a pet dog, since a dog appears to have considerable advantages over a girlfriend.
And other excuses...
I re-fashion a 'positive thinking' aphorism to better fit my own mindset, and to make fun of a bumptious entrepreneur.
China's rather limited grasp of Western popular music can be a source of dismay and exasperation.
Another of my more serious posts, about the 15th anniversary of the Karamay theatre fire.
A poignant - and somewhat poetic - snapshot of a thwarted love affair.
Some of the things about life in England that I eventually found I was starting to miss.
Probably my favourite post ever: I imagine how the historians of the future will go about their work.