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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Thursday, 9 April 2009

"Going Dutch in Beijing" by Mark McCrum

This is one of those miscellany reference books: full of interesting tit bits of information based around a theme. In this case the theme is "the weird things that foreigners do when abroad" but made pc by purporting to be a manual to assist the visitor in not offending his or her hosts.

But if this were truly so it should surely be organised by country (what not to do in China etc) rather than by theme (weddings, funerals etc).

It has moments of interest which make one wonder whether there is any truly worldwide culture and how some of the bizarre customs grew up in the first place. On the whole, however, it fails to develop any long lasting interest. Truly a dip in book.

However, I did find some lasting value from the last section which describes the general philosophies of various different cultures from the fatalistic middle east (Inshallah - god willing - bukra - tomorrow - ma'alesh - don't worry) to the saudade ('might have been') wistfulness of the Portuguese. But the best philosophy is the African ubuntu, the "deep sense that life is meaningful only if lived for and through other people".

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