I’m by no means an old bird (23 and a half), but my joints aren’t what they could be. Spending 9 months learning to walk followed swiftly by 22 years ofsitting on my backside means I’m not as limber as, say, my Brazilian indigenous tribal counterparts. When I signed up for teaching English I didn’t think this sort of white collar employment would be too taxing on the old joints. If I spared a fleeting thought for my kneecaps it was only a mild concern that if I was to get mixed up in any dirty Triad business they might be the first to go in a vicious Chinese vs Russian gangland war. A risk so minimal it doesn’t even warrent thinking about.

What I didn’t count on was the daily beating they’d face in the little girl’s room. Twice a day, thrice (and the rest, for the promise of undefined meats and unrefined hygiene yields the threat of less than pleasant bathroom experiences for at least the first few weeks) I’ll have to pull down my pants and squat over a hole in the floor to do my business. For thousands of years this has been seen as the most hygienic and convenient way of going. Pants round your ankles, nothing touching your bum but smelly toilet air, and away you go. The cheek-to-seat contact of the porcelain throne is seen as an unhygienic, lazy and inconceivably impractical way of relieving yourself (it goes against the natural instinct to not pee when sitting down). But oh, the stuff of Western dreams. I’ll miss reading the agony aunt pages of Take A Break every morning when I’m scrambling to hoik my trousers off the floor, from toppling arse first down the poo shute, and firmly pressing down into my kneecaps to keep them from popping out there and then.

More to come on this topic I have no doubt!


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