The riveting news this morning consists of a very long list of people you’ve never heard of winning sports you’ve never heard of. Where did these multitudinous variants of contrived physical activities come from? Are they being produced in the same genetic engineering laboratories in China that are manufacturing the mutants who win them all? You know it’s time to head for the office when you find yourself waiting to hear who won the men’s 100 metres synchronized walking backwards.
On the Mid-Levels Escalator near Lyndhurst Terrace, a crowd gathers silently near the top of the steps leading up from the street. It is a grievous sight. A man has hanged himself in such a way as to have a perfect view of the expat housewives being pampered in the Twinkle Nail Emporium and Spa – were he alive and it open. He is himself white and middle aged. A placard around his neck reads ‘Call this a world city???!!!’ A policeman tells me this is the fourth such incident on Hong Kong Island alone in the last three days. Then there have been the mass-slayings in subscription TV centres, where Westerners have gone berserk with meat cleavers.
The dreadful scenario is much the same on every occasion. The guy sits down at home at 3.40am to watch the women’s synchronized formation Greco-Roman wrestling on his 120-inch flat screen TV, only to find that the commentary is in Hong Kong’s vernacular language only. There are several possible courses of action. He could drag his locally born wife out of bed to do a spot of simultaneous interpretation. He could turn the sound down and enjoy the graceful and lithe athletes’ performance in calming silence. Or he could just tough it out and learn the hard way what Huang, Zheng and Qiang sound like in Cantonese. But no. After frenzied jabbing at the remote control, the awful truth dawns on him that there is no English audio channel; maybe the cable company forgot, or couldn’t be bothered, or maybe someone there was bitten by a gwailo as a child and is now wreaking his revenge – yes, that’s the most likely explanation. Something snaps, and we have another grim statistic.
On the subject of tragic wastes, the Standard features a series of photographs showing the Olympic Games’ token Hongkonger, Angel Wong (which is what ‘Huang’ sounds like) apparently springing from a thing called a balance beam onto the ground. (What’s Cantonese for ‘Very nice front tuck half mount, tiny wobble out. Switch side’?)
Except she’s not leaping off it, but on to it, complete with somersault-type interlude in mid-air. Can’t she find a way to use this impressive skill to benefit the community? Maybe the Fire Services Department could employ her to jump onto narrow tree branches to rescue cats. There must be something productive like that for her to do.
Ah hah! Reading between the lines, it seems she is more-or-less Australian and has failed to reach the finals (which makes you wonder what freakish acrobatics her rivals pulled off). Late-night English-language sports commentator to calm suicidal expat TV viewers?