A different kind of teaching story…

A couple of days ago I was teaching this girl – I won’t say her name because I want to protect her identity – and we were going through yet another gruelling lesson…

The main reason it was so gruelling is because I teach a very advanced English course to non native speakers, and sometimes the students are simply not ready to take this course, and this particular student was no exception.

At the end of the advanced writing class I said to her that she could relax as I acknowledged the class we’d just done was a particularly strenuous one, and she looked mentally exhausted. She sighed and said “It’s hard…”

“What’s hard?” I replied innocently, half expecting her to tell me what part of the class she struggled with an then I could give a autopilot reply on how she could improve whatever it was that she found difficult. Although I was way off the mark…

“My husband left me yesterday…” She said, trying to fight back tears.

“Oh shit…” I thought, but there was nothing I could say, I had to wait for her to finish the conversation.

She got a few more words in, talking about how he’d taken her dogs, then she burst out crying.

“Oh double shit!” I thought, and did the only thing I could do in that situation. I didn’t know if it was against the culture, but I shot up and told her to stand up so I could give her a hug. She then cried on my shoulder and it was a very surreal experience.

She apologised and I quickly replied that she had nothing to apologise for. I then knelt down beside her and tried to give her advice and a sympathetic ear. Afterwards she thanked me and I told her to get some rest and I’d see her in a few days.

I admittedly can be quite an arsehole in the classroom sometimes. Those that know me personally would be very surprised to hear this, but those who know me professionally wouldn’t be surprised at all. I’m very serious at work, and teaching is no exception. A lot of times I will get students who are nowhere near ready for an international test and the only tool I have at my disposal is shock. I don’t want to be an arsehole to these people, but its one of the few ways I can click people into gear and make them motivated enough to pass the exam they need to study abroad. I can be nice, but being nice doesn’t get them a passing grade…

My point being, a lot of my students turn up late and don’t have the drive they should have, so they don’t see the fun side of me or my normal personality, they only see the arsehole side of me. So it was nice to show that I’m not the grinch that everyone thinks I am (although I would have preferred it to be in different circumstances!).

So now for obvious reasons I’ll ease up a bit on this girl. she’ll be lucky if she passes her exam with all the shit that’s going on around her, but maybe now she’s had this extreme mental trauma she might be focused on bettering her life and having a complete overhaul, and the softly softly approach that doesn’t usually work for Thai students could be the perfect formula to get her studying abroad. There’s few better feelings than knowing you are indirectly responsible for getting a student to study in a foreign country and open up so many horizons for them, and if she unexpectedly passes after all this I know I’ll have a bigger smile on my face than she will…

Dreams can come true – Christian Whitehead

Most people my age were brought up on Sonic The Hedgehog. The games even now have that replayability factor (Probably not a word, I’m using it anyway…) and just hearing the music brings up a load of nostalgia where you uncontrollably hum the entire act song. However Sonic had great gameplay for one reason; it was a simple 2D game and the speed, stages, style of gameplay etc… really suited the style of play down to the ground. But when the game started becoming more 3D, the game was quickly exposed and Sonic as a game never truly recovered.


Enter Christian Whitehead…

I became aware of Christian Whitehead two or three years ago. I managed to download an old Sonic game on my smart phone for free. It was great! It felt like I was playing the old Sonic games in its fluidity again. But Sega did not produce this game; this free game was programmed by an unknown programmer and Sonic fan called Christian Whitehead.

I would also see ‘fan made hacks’ of Sonic on Youtube. I marvelled at the creativity that these fan gamers had when they designed the levels based on previous games, and most of comments were people saying that Sega should take note how Sonic games should be made, as a lot of the newer Sonic games left a lot to be desired. Even the most hardcore fans – as much as they pretended to enjoy the games – felt disappointed. Sega have always had a gem, but ever since Sonic 3 & Knuckles (or arguably Sonic CD) They’ve never really been able to crack the code, even when they ditched the 3D world and went back to the classic 2D format.

Fans have been saying for ages what they want, but it’s not as simple as that; if it was that simple everyone would be a video game programmer! So after Sega tried a few different methods, they finally pulled the trigger and let Christian Whitehead loose on a completely new Sonic game (along with a few other fans as programmers) to breathe a new lease of life into the franchise.

What Christian did was simple, yet genius. He kept a lot of the old zones in the game (8 classic zones, and 4 unique ones). At first glance this seems lazy but it did exactly what it was supposed to do; attract the nostalgic gamers who loved Sonic when they were kids. The first level of the classic zones is always exactly the same for the first 5-10 seconds to make fans scream in euphoria when they begin the level, but as the level goes on it is noticeably harder than the originals, with their own completely unique layout which is not similar to the originals at all.

Another two problems were the bosses and the special stages. People wanted original ideas, and boy did Christian come up with them! A cool ‘chase the emerald’ special stage, and now every level has its own boss, not just at the end of every zone. There is a perfect mix between throwbacks and completely new ideas. Oh, and as expected the gameplay is fast and exciting, but not painfully difficult to control like the games in the 2000’s…

Christian Whitehead is just like all of us; he’s a guy with a dream. He loved Sonic and when he was younger he probably dreamed of working with Sega and creating a quality Sonic game for everyone. We all have dreams, and it seems that Christian Whitehead got to live out his dream. And to honest I can’t help but feel incredibly happy for the guy. This story should be told to thousands of people who feel like they want to give up on whatever it is that their dream is. “It never happens to me…” It could do. This is a guy who created free Sonic games for people, and now he is the head programmer of a game that has been very well received with the PS4 and X-Box reviewers. If it can happen to him then it can happen to any of us. Keep on pushing, but you never know when that final push could make you successful, whatever ‘successful’ means for you…

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The Lewis Review! THE MIGHTY WATFORD vs Liverpool (SPOILERS)

<Rafiki talking to Simba> : It is time…

New season, again a new manager. Hopefully we can have a bit more stability and push on. We need to play better than last season if we want to stay up that’s for sure…

Watford line up:

Watford opting for the 4-3-3 (Or 4-5-1, I don’t care, I didn’t look it up…) today, hoping to use the counter attack to devastating effect.

Gomes (GK) Holebas (LB) Britos (CB) Kaboul (CB) Janmaat (RB) Chalobah (CM) Cleverley (CM) Doucoure (CM) Pereyra (LW) Okaka (CF) Amrabat (RW)

Liverpool team news:

Mingolet starts, no Coutinho (I smell an upset maybe?) and a start for the youngster Trent Alexander Arnold. I tried to sign him on Fifa 17, but Liverpool wanted around 5 million for the fucker even though he was worth 1.4, so needless to say I dominated without him…

OK, kick off!

I was excited watching this bad boy at home, secretly worrying that we may get stuffed, but Watford started sharply and Liverpool looked sloppy, the signs looked good.

Six minutes in Pereyra broke free cutting inside the last Liverpool defender. “GO ON SON!” I screamed. But as he shot it bounced off of a Liverpool defender for a corner. Definitely got my juices flowing!

And if that didn’t, it was about to; from the resulting corner < generic Watford player > spanks it in the box. Okaka was unmarked as he made a fucking world class run into the six yard box. Any coach will tell you in this situation to put it either side of the keeper. Okaka made a mockery of this strategy and went straight for Mingolet’s face, with the ball bouncing off of his face and into the top corner.


Rocking the Watford shirt whilst teaching in Thailand

Before I could process this Watford were on the attack, and thanks to some suspect defending and a bit of pinball action, the ball fell to Doucoure who made no mistake from six yards.

Half time, THE MIGHTY WATFORD 2-1 Liverpool

well, it should have been 2-2, but when the debutant Salah broke free at 38 minutes, he stabbed at it, poking the ball over. I think he was trying to hard to make an impression, which tensed him up a little bit at the vital moment. I’ve been a big fan of Salah for a while now though, and as long as Liverpool give him time to settle he’ll come good…

I got myself a cheeky Pad Thai (I’m in Thailand, so I’m not trying to sound pretentious, it’s the Thai version of a pasty) and got ready for the barrage of Liverpool players ready to chase the game.

Anyway, the game was drifting into nothingness in the second half, until an innocuous ball from Firmino into Salah led to panic from Gomes, and he brought Salah down for a penalty. He complained but I don’t know why; it was a simple decision for me…Firmino smashed in the resulting penalty, and ninety seconds later Liverpool broke again on the left. Gomes then though it would be a cracking idea to go walkabouts, and Firmino chipped him:

Good News: It didn’t reach the goal

Bad News: Salah was there to finish the job…


Me also invading Italian bars with my Watford shirt…

That is however, until stoppage time; Watford had a corner, Liverpool didn’t clear it and somehow it was scrambled in. 3-3! Although I felt embarrassed because we didn’t deserve a draw by any means, but a points a point. We may need it come the end of the season.

Looking at the replay Liverpool will feel more robbed because Britos (The scorer) was offside, but I’ll take it! Liverpool will have nothing to worry about though; they may have dropped two points but at times they looked world class. Once they settle they could be serious title contenders if they stick to their attacking mindset.


(THE LEWIS PICK is my man of the match out of all the Watford players. I’m not sure how this is going to pan out, so I’ll let it evolve naturally)


I debated on picking Doucoure, who had some exceptional touches, but Holebas was solid and looked lively whenever he had the ball

Final score: THE MIGHTY WATFORD 3-3 Liverpool

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I’ve been nominated for a Steemit competition

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Irrelevant photo to subconsciously ram my books down your throat…


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The Books Have Finally Got to Valentin Hostel in Skopje

When I got my books printed on paperback I sent a load of them to family and friends. I also sent some to some of the hostel owners that I am still good friends with. Unfortunately two months after I sent them to Macedonia they still hadn’t arrived, but I got a message from Nikoleta yesterday, along with a picture, saying that they had finally arrived.

20630010_1586324138079263_1384401218_o (1)I hope you and your guests enjoy the books Valentin and Nikoleta, and I’ll see you soon (I say soon, it’ll probably be in a few years…)