Examiner Column, 18 April 2008

April 18, 2008

Postcard from a blue tracksuit
By Michael Moynihan
A BIG hi there to everyone back home! Sorry I haven’t written before, but it’s been all go here.
America’s been great. I just came back from the laundromat with Liu and Yao, we had to drop off our blue tracksuits and get some of that blood out (those Tibetan monks, one little nick and it’s like a geyser, I tell you).
Coming back up to our rooms in the hotel lift a guy asked if we’d seen any of those “thug Chinese guys with the Olympic torch.” Liu is still picking teeth out of his knuckles.

Protests shmotests! Despite what you may have heard, we’ve gotten a good reception in just about every country we’ve been to so far.
Apparently sticking a middle finger up to visitors is regarded as good manners in England, while spitting into someone’s face is a frank invitation to sexual proximity in France. That’s what we told Yao anyway. He’s still pining for that gendarme with all the tattoos.
The odd time, fair enough, you know someone’s not being friendly. I don’t think anyone could see a throat-slitting gesture as ambiguous, despite everything the interpreter was saying to us in San Francisco. The hippies were ever into that kind of sign language, right?
To be honest, I don’t know why they’re so annoyed with us. What we do in Tibet is our business. And the Tibetans’ business, to a certain extent. At least we don’t go poking our noses into Iraq or these other places. I mean, they’re giving out about a few Tibetans having a tantrum, but you know where I’m writing from today? Islamabad! Hello! This is Mr Pot, paging Mr Kettle! Then next week it’s on to that other bastion of human rights, Jakarta in Indonesia.
After that we’re heading to Canberra. Which is in Australia — translated from the Aborigine by Liu as land-of-the-glass-house-where-nobody-should-throw-humanitarian-stones.
(That Liu. Always thinking. I’ll have to report him for indoctrination classes when we get back).
I think it’s jealousy, to be honest. The more I see of these westerners the more scared they look. Could be that one of them understood Liu when he was shouting at them from that bus in London, of course: “Soon you’ll be sewing footballs for us, the whole lot of you!”
Great laugh. Of course it helps when you’re six feet two and have a face like a broken elbow, like Liu. He could be shouting the phone book at some guy and he’d go weak at the knees.
This London Olympic boss Sebastian Coe has been complaining about us, according to Yao, who says the English press is full of him moaning about us pushing him out of the way or something.
He calls that pushing? Try getting on a rush-hour train in Beijing.
Coe also said we don’t understand English. What a crock. Just because we’re not asking for cucumber sandwiches in the Savoy with these idiots they think you’re a simpleton.
For instance, one of us has to stay up with the torch all night when we’re on the plane, and it’s usually Yao. He’s onto Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban already. In the original, I might add!
Of course, I saw that some idiot reporter said we’d done special courses in physics to make sure we could keep the flame lit. Yeah, right: flame and fire course 101: to keep a flame alive, keep a box of matches handy at all times.
Good thing that guy Coe couldn’t understand what Yao was shouting at him in Chinese back in London. Though I thought he’d be able to make out the words “Steve Ovett rocks da house”. Not to worry. He’ll change his tune when there are scumbags running around London in four years’ time.
He’ll want to know us then. If he’s not too busy sewing footballs.
Your son,
Xiu.
contact: michael.moynihan@examiner.ie

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