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Hello and welcome, this is Owen and this is my podcast for Friday 12th October, 2018. Last month I started by wishing Gerry, my old man, a happy retirement. Well it turns out  that I’ve had to bring him out of retirement, but only for one episode. Gerry joins me today in the studio. He’s standing here next to me, so welcome back to PodClub, Gerry.
Gerry: Nice to be here. Thanks for the invitation.
Owen: Now, if you listened to Gerry’s last Diary you know that I interviewed him to celebrate 10 years of PodClub. Today we’ll do the reverse . Gerry is going to ask me a few questions. So over to you, Gerry.
Gerry: Well, Owen, when you joined PodClub over 4 years ago now, you were living in Kunming, in the south-west of China. So let’s go back to that time. Why did you move to China in the first place?
Owen: I wanted to witness  a revolution. No, I’m joking. China was a great place to live. I made great friends, I lived in two different cities and I loved them both. I had beautiful homes in both places and great jobs. And I ended up staying much longer than I planned.
Gerry: So, OK, why did you leave when you did?
Owen: I think it was just time for a change, time to start a new chapter in my life. There are definitely things that I miss but there are also things about China that began to worry me. I’ve talked about them before. One of the reasons I was quite happy to leave in the end was politics as a matter of fact . The system they have in China requires everything to be politicised . The Communist Party of China is everywhere. And during the time I lived there, things seemed to get worse; for example all the restrictions on the internet. The country is also becoming more nationalistic. But now I’ve come back to Brexit Britain, so…
Gerry: Yeah, right… I know that one of the things you miss is the food. But we have lots of Chinese restaurants over here. Have you tried them?
Owen: I tried one place and I wasn’t impressed.
Gerry: What about cooking Chinese food yourself? Did you cook Chinese food in China? Did you learn to cook some proper Chinese food before you left?
Owen: Did I ever cook Chinese food in China? No, hardly ever . The reason being that  China has a restaurant culture and there are restaurants absolutely everywhere. I ate out most of the time. I did learn to cook a few basic Chinese things, but I probably should have learnt a lot more. I could probably teach myself to cook decent  Chinese food.
Gerry: Can you get all the ingredients?
Owen: That’s not a problem these days. The problem is you need very high heat to cook Chinese food and that means a big gas stove. You may think Chinese food is easy to cook: all you do is stir-fry some meat and veggies . Well, I can tell you it’s not. The art of Chinese cooking lies in regulating  the heat of the wok. It’s not easy.
Gerry: You’re now back in Europe after a long time – more than 10 years. In those ten years you lived in a whole number of places and you visited a whole bunch more. But now you’re living in the UK, which is a first for you.
Owen: Yeah, I guess that’s true.
Gerry: So where do you say you come from?
Owen: Well, on paper I’m British but when people ask me ‘Where are you from?’ I never quite know what to say. Sometimes I say I’m English ‘cause that’s where I was born, sometimes I say Swiss ‘cause that’s where I was raised, and now sometimes I say Welsh because that’s where I now live. But in all honesty  I don’t like the question. In this day and age , for a lot of people, there isn’t a simple answer.
Gerry: So what do you feel? Do you feel British or Swiss or Chinese or what?
Owen: I hate that question even more! First of all I have no idea what that means ‘to feel British’. I mean how do you define Britishness? Personally I dislike this idea of defining cultures according to  our borders. I suppose there’s a lot of talk these days about identity. You have to belong to a nation or a group. But for me my identity lies in community, not country. I’ve always lived and socialised with people from all over the world. My idea of culture is not permanent . It evolves  and changes, it never stops.
Gerry: That’s very interesting. Identity politics , culture wars  – these are phrases we hear a lot these days. But unfortunately we don’t have time to discuss that any further. I thought we could finish today with some travel tips. Your mother and I came to visit you twice when you were living in China. Once to Beijing and once to Kunming, and we did some travelling in the country both times. What about a third trip? Where should we go? We know that China is a pretty vast  country. So where do you think we should go next?
Owen: Well, if you’re going to fly to China, fly to Beijing. I love Beijing or I should say I loved Beijing, because here’s the thing; Beijing has probably changed a fair  bit since I was last there, but I reckon Beijing is definitely still worth another visit. Then after Beijing I would head west. The east coast is great but it’s very densely populated and you’ve seen some of that. The west is where I’d go. It’s a part of China that’s a little less explored. There are three provinces I’d check out; Gansu, Qinghai and Xinjiang. Gansu has a desert, Qinghai has the largest lake in China, and Xinjiang is the largest province in China and has some fascinating cities such as Kashgar.
Gerry: Well, who knows? Perhaps that’ll be something for my retirement!
Owen: And I might come along, too!
Well, that’s all we have time for. Thank you, Gerry, for coming on the show today. It was good to have you back. You can now return to your cushy  retirement. As for you, our listeners, thank you for tuning in and thank you for your comments. Remember there’s a box below if you would like to leave a comment or question. You can find all our episodes on our website podclub.ch or by downloading our app. You can also download our vocabulary trainer and you can find me on Instagram using the hashtags #PodClubOwen and #oweninchina. My next podcast will be on 9th November. Till then, take care everyone, goodbye!