Hello Kitty

Hu’ong Vy Restaurant, Saigon.

“Hey here’s another one. The Doctor Who theme. It’s classic, man,” says Hello Kitty Teacher spitting another youtube video from his tinny Bluetooth speakers.

“I teach the street children. They’re all my special friends,” he says, before adding “I know all their families as well.”

“I’m the Hello Kitty Teacher,” he says. “That’s my thing.”

“I have a thousand followers on Facebook,” he says.

I’ve had some history with Hello Kitty Teacher. I have a new job to go to and the owner wants people covering hours which aren’t a big enough carrot as they stand for someone to scooter 40 minutes each way from Saigon. I know that. I’m just not in the job yet because I’m serving notice on a teaching gig which I took at below market rates to pay the rent.

I was recently head-hunted to run the academic side of a language school 20 Km outside Ho Chi Minh City. There’s a very good chance of success and reasonable targets being set by a very decent Iranian-American guy who has the capital and business acumen but needs someone to handle the academic side. It could be a  good opportunity.

I got asked to recruit on the internet and Hello Kitty Teacher vented at me on Facebook on his group and then requested my Skype so he could also vent at me by message there.

A couple of nights later we weirdly ended up on tables next to each other at Hu’ong Vy Restaurant and worked out who each other was. He said he was sorry. Had had a really shitty day. But the pay wasn’t great enough or the hours weren’t in big enough blocks and I agreed. There wasn’t much I could do about it until I was actually in the job, of course. He agreed.

Anyway. Cut to now.

Hu’ong Vy. Ext. Night.

I have an inexplicable earache that has forced me to buy a very expensive French ear cleaning kit that on use turns out to be just salt water in a can with a nozzle. It hasn’t made things better so I now have annoying tinnitus in my right ear. Doctor Who is easier on my inflamed membrane than some of the earlier selections.

“Could I request the Tomorrow’s World theme?” I ask. “It’s a classic. You probably didn’t hear it in America but it’s by the same people.

BBC Radiophonic Workshop. It’s really good.”

“No!” he snaps. “It is MY equipment and YOU are not in a position to decide!”

I’m startled by his Manifest Destiny made manifest.

“Anyway, you offer a SHITTY job, Rick! You work for a shitty LANGUAGE SCHOOL and you have no FUCKING idea of what teachers need!”

“Yeh, well, I’ve been a teacher for twelve years now. I do understand. But I haven’t even started in the job yet.”

“Hey, Doctor Who. What a fucking show!” he says to his acolytes who enthusiastically agree.

“Yeah well. I think it’s a bag of shit,” I say.

“What?” He is aghast. “You’re a fucking Brit and you don’t like Doctor Who?”

“I must admit,” I offer, “That my earliest memory is a British cliché- hiding behind the sofa, terrified by the Daleks. But really, it’s a kids’ show with some questionable qualities. Lesbian lizards and the like.”

“ALL lizards are lesbians,” someone says but offers no evidence to back up the claim.

“My nephew likes it. He’s ten,” I say.

At that, Hello Kitty Teacher throws up his hands. “I have nothing further to say to you on any subject ever.”

It turns out he does, though.

Talk turns back to our respective tables for a while then someone asks me about the job I’m about to start. Hello Kitty Teacher overhears me say the word ‘business’ and marches down the length of three tables to bellow in my face, “Oh yeh right! ‘it’s a business’ you say! That shows you don’t give a fuck about education, you don’t care about people and you don’t. FUCKING. Belong here!”

I am tipsy, a bit stoned and have earache so my reaction is minimal. “yeh, but. It IS a business. If it doesn’t make money it will close down.”

He said, “And that attitude shows exactly what and who you are.”

“I’ve worked at universities in the UK,” I said. “Honestly, all education is a business. It has been since the Eighties.”

He marches back to his table with a “Harumph!” where one of his buddies, another American guy, Daniel, I have previously offended shakes his head at me in a what-a-fucking-jerkoff kinda way.

Much later, two attractive young women- tourists- stop to ask where they can get some Valium for their nine-hour bus journey the next morning.

It seems me and Hello Kitty Teacher answered simultaneously with the whereabouts of the local pharmacy that is always a certain bet.

I’ve lived in a lot of places and been confused about many things, so when I said “They might actually have Valium but ask for diazepam because it’s cheaper” I may have been confusing chemists, countries or even continents.

What happened next was extraordinary.

Hello Kitty Teacher launched at me with the following tirade, punctuated by the jabbing bayonet of his finger. It was all in caps, as well (with some of it in bold):


Instinctively, I responded in kind. I don’t like bullying behaviour and never pick battles with others. Yet I still find there are cunts out there who you either deal with or get dealt by.

“Yeh?” I said.

[It was most likely still all in caps because I was actually yelling my head off. But I’ll write it properly in a piece of subtextual subterfuge to subliminally sway your sympathy.]

“Yeh? And who the fuck are YOU while we’re at it? Who the fuck are you, EH? You’re just another fucking person in the world, Daniel. Oh, Mr Vietnam. Yeh, well who fucking cares about your Facebook cult? You’re just a blowhard bloviating about bollocks.”

I said some other things after that but I can’t really remember what they were. They were dead clever and cutting anyway, because the next thing was Hello Kitty Teacher grabbing my face and pulling back his fist that was shaking with paper Hello Kitty tiger aggression.

“You will GO NOW from this place! Fuck off! Fucking FUCK OFF! GO NOW! Or I will, swear to God, fucking punch you in the fucking face! Yeh! I’m gonna fucking HIT you, man!”

Across the street, the local police officer and staff from the bar were all agog to see how events would transpire. Another comedy foreigner sideshow.

As it was, I laughed. “No you won’t. You’d have hit me by now if you were really going to do that. So why don’t you shut the fuck up and fuck off instead, Daniel?”

[I know this comes across as possibly arrogant and some people hate me in life for this. Thankfully, people in real life love me also for the exact same reason, so it all balances out. I’m a bit like Marmite which, ironically, I hate.]

With that he looked like he might cry out of his eyes with tears.

“It’s fucking DAVID. You didn’t even get my NAME right!” he wailed.

“Ah, yeh, sorry about that,” I conceded. “But it kind of proves my point that you’re just another fucking person in this world. Just like me. Just like anyone.”

As he was packing up his stuff to leave, I couldn’t resist telling him I thought he was a complete fucking wanker, “By the way.” Twice.

He said, “That’s enough! That’s ENOUGH!” but I had him on the ropes and couldn’t resist.

The crowd had thinned somewhat during the altercation and opinion among those that had witnessed proceedings was divided. The Vietnamese guys across the street were smiling and a guy I had been talking to said “Well said. He’s a right cunt.”

Daniel, whose name I had confused with David’s, then said I wasn’t welcome there again either, clearly conflating being a regular with being the owner, to which I replied, “Well, whatever. Your opinion is of no consequence at all.”

He’s American so maybe he got the Radiohead reference.

Or maybe not.




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  1. On behalf of all more mature and less idiotic Americans, our sincere and deepest apologies. People like this David fellow and Donald Trump, along with the continuing disease-like spread of so-called”American culture” are what make most of us want to burn our passports, which of course we cannot do since we need them to work in the oh-so-rewarding field that is EFL/ESL teaching.
    Anyone who brags about how many “friends” or “followers” they have on Facebook is of questionable intelligence anyway. And the fact that this urchin was too stupid to recognize the truth that you spoke about the education industry proves that this blowhard was just another pie in the sky Bernie Sanders disciple. You are probably the victim of his severe inner kookiness stemming from his realization that he is a moron for having believed word One that the grumpy old man has ensnared his followers with.

    • I was quite pleased with ‘blowhard’ and ‘bloviate’. Both Americanisms most Brits have never heard of. I got accused of doing the latter by a seventy-something anti-NWO (commendable) Christian Fundamentalist (not so much) I was in contact with for a while. When I pointed out that maybe the whole ISIS thing was a bit more nuanced than America’s righteous struggle against evil in the End Times and that it was far more likely that ISIS are a black ops creation of the USA/UK/Israel/GCC Sunni states he responded with “Boy! You sure do like to bloviate!”

  2. Sorry Ron, but Tomorrow’s world was wank – I sometimes recall some of the daft things they showcased, which have never seen the light of day since.

    But then that’s the Beeb, I suppose – don’t trust the sods.

  3. No it was generally rubbish. Remember them introducing CDs and saying how they were indestructible?

    Great theme tune though. I stand by that

    • CDs indestructible! Lol, yep just one of the myths spouted by Judith whatsherface…

      Fair dos – you did only say the theme tune was good.

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