James - From Barking to Beijing - Chinese Idol

James is known by several names in China as people struggle to handle his English name. Yang, Yang Cong, even Yangcong. But it's his voice that has driven his popularity across China and South East Asia.

It's all a long way from being born in Barking, living in Upminster and Brentwood and attending schools in Romford, Brentwood, Southend and Colchester before university in London. He's worked in the UK and in Korea before starting his career as a musician and actor first in Taiwan and then across the South Pacific, even appearing in Las Vegas.

Here's how he came to the attention of China in the Chinese Idol competition where he was granted a special Chinese Idol award. He's working on his second album and developing an acting career.

20160926 Why the USA needs to add "none of the above" to its ballot paper

Something scary is happening in the USA. Two candidates, both described by media as "unpopular" have come out of the "Primaries" - the selection process by which party members vote for the person they want to be the next President of the USA. After a "race" (as they call it) between a batch of people who, so far as the rest of the world can tell, were all entirely unsuited to run a family barbecue, much less a large powerful country that is in domestic and international crisis, the members selected their least worst options which were then "confirmed" by a party congress. If many people want neither of them, democracy can only be served by the addition of a "none of the above" option to the ballot. And it's not as impossible as it first seems...

20160909 Sometimes even Trump can be right, ish

I'm almost embarrassed to say this but I think, if one picks one's way through the misogynistic, racist, bombastic, ignorant and arrogant bollocks that characterise Donald Trump's speeches and, worse, proposed policies, he does, sometimes, get something a bit right. But then he usually goes and spoils it by reverting to type.

20160728 Au revoir, la France. Je t'aime mais ....


I'm waiting for a ferry, sitting in my right hand drive car in a queue. My life as a resident of France is over.

I've sold the house, my French car (and Starfish's French car) and gone through the misery of deciding what boxes things were to go in and marking them for shipping to Starfish - once I find out exactly where she is. Until then, they will sit in a store awaiting instructions.

20160615 Sleeping your life away

My friend, Nigel, never moans about the shit in his life. He always sees the fun stuff, and as my readers will know, I have often leaned on his stories of how he has found laughter when things go wrong.

For the last two or three years, while he has continued to have "adventures," his life has been tainted by circumstances in which there was no humour.