To my impish mind the human bottom with its neat, vulnerable, curved groove looks like a huge smile. Think of the proverbial plumber in his too tight jeans, on his knees sweating over a drain pipe: he always has a smile from behind, sometimes a little hairy. Half-exposed bottoms cause giggles and bring us down to earth. With this is mind, this is the sign on the toilet at the back of a wonderful coffee shop run by even more wonderful mainland Chinese people, here in Brown’s Bay, New Zealand.


The fuzzy sign reads: “I love your smile”. Great one to read while you unbuckle, unzip and drop. For that little compliment on their customers’ loo, one which I have had the pleasure to visit a few times, I thank the Chinese owners from the heart of my bottom. It is heart-warming to see this wonderful “language”, Chinglish, opening up the doors of possibility in the suggestible. Charlie Chaplin meets unintended, chuckle-worthy vulgarity.

In terms on unintentional vulgarity, my best yet, while I lived in China, was a T-shirt that said, “I love sperm”. The T-shirt was grey, the lettering a brilliant white and it was worn by a young man who clearly didn’t have the faintest clue as to what was the matter while I stared at him open-mouthed, silently cursing myself for not having, in those days, a mobile phone with a camera.

Being a reasonable hand at Chinglish, I sometimes run Chinglish-styled adverts here in Auckland, New Zealand for my gardening and landscaping services. I put them on various local Facebook pages. This is one I posted at the beginning of the December holidays:

Greatly I conquer your garden with mighty prettiness! Cutely I skin to bright core your plants, lawns, hedges and your bedding flowers. Spoken English and Chinese and, no doubting, Chinglish too gushing from mouth.

Seriously, I do your GARDENS before Christmas and New Year strike their bright thunders. Unpack a phone call to Rod at … (If not availing, nicely leave your smartest phone number and I come back on you.)

I was thrilled with the response. Unlike my other, blander ads this one got loads of responses, likes and LOLs. My mobile phone regularly vibrated in the back pocket of my gardening shorts. People were delighted because, as one commentator said, most ads were so tame.

Inevitably there were the anally correct and the easily offended and this blog is partly dedicated to you, (usually all too judgmental lefties or right-wing neo-Nazis, in my experience). One woman wrote:

“Honestly it makes you look special. I won’t be needing your service nor will I recommend your name to others as it sounds like you are either taking the piss from speakers of other languages or you’re incapable of using English correctly.”

Other commentators did a good job of drubbing the offended and my little ads got more and more hits. So I wrote another one:

Make a romance of YOUR GARDEN for you and your many partners and guests to get high on! Quickly we abort ugly naughty places in your garden into sexy unclad stunnings that will faint your wifes and neighbours. Necklaces of flowers will welcome with many winkings every desirable visitor! We not idling boast we prettily impregnate every garden we sweet touch. You will be staggering at the birthing creations we make of YOUR GARDEN with our landscaping and gardening procreation tools – nothing sterile about us. English spoken and Mandarin with Chinglish too. For a mouthful phone Rod …

The advert went well again: as I cleared gardens my bottom (the back of my shorts) repeatedly and loudly hooted the theme to Chariots of Fire. My negative commentators were fewer.

But the universe has a way of striking back.

I advertise in a local rag called the North Shore Times. I needed to change our ads and the procedure took nearly twenty minutes of frustration on my mobile phone to the call centre in the Philippines where they speak their own special brand of Chinglish. (Phillinglish I suppose.) The story, in brief, is contained in the next advert I put up on various Facebook pages.


Yep, that is how our gardening and landscaping ad was going to look in the North Shore Times. We wanted “landscaping, trees, stumps … ”

Who would have answered our ads? Some outdoor, all-purpose, slightly kinky Hen Party caterer?

The call centre person somewhere in the Philippines still got it wrong after spending about eighteen minutes with her spelling out slowly the two ads we put in the North Shore Times. Fortunately I spotted the errors with an AAAAAARRRGGHHH …

… and maybe spoilt a lot of fun.


We offer a great service from well-priced garden tidy-ups and lawn greening to earthworks, fences, tree felling and stump grinding. Even hydroponics. Great references and we could consider doing it all in g-strings on the right occasion, for the right price.

Phone Rod …

And with this brief anecdote, I rest my case of valium. And also dedicate this blog to the non-anally retentive and non-politically correct, without whom my lawn-stained bottom would not have started vibrating again the next day.


  • CRACKING CHINA was previously the title of this blog. That title was used as the name for Rod MacKenzie's second book, Cracking China: a memoir of our first three years in China. From a review in the Johannesburg Star: " Mackenzie's writing is shot through with humour and there are many laugh-out-loud scenes". Cracking China is available as an eBook on Amazon Kindle or get a hard copy from His previous book is a collection of poetry,Gathering Light. A born and bred South African, Rod now lives in Auckland, New Zealand, after a number of years working in southern mainland China and a stint in England. Under the editorship of David Bullard and Michael Trapido he had a column called "The Mocking Truth" on NewsTime until the newszine folded. He has a Master's Degree in Creative Writing from the University of Auckland. if you are a big, BIG publisher you should ask to see one of his many manuscript novels. Follow Rod on Twitter @


Rod MacKenzie

CRACKING CHINA was previously the title of this blog. That title was used as the name for Rod MacKenzie's second book, Cracking China: a memoir of our first three years in China. From a review in the Johannesburg...

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