Becker fails to play the game

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 October, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 October, 1997, 12:00am


To the rest of the world he may be a superstar but by all accounts Boris Becker is just another foreign face in Hong Kong.

Here for the Marlboro tennis championship, Becker checked into The Excelsior Hotel, Causeway Bay. After whooping it up with a bottle of mineral water at Top of the Town nightclub, he decided to get in some practice on the tennis courts.

On previous visits, management had photographed him and proudly hung his picture on the walls.

But when the player went to the desk this time to book his court the young man in charge asked him to spell his name. He tried valiantly and repeatedly: 'B-E-C-K-E-R'.

After several attempts to make himself understood in an atmosphere of rising tension, the star gave up and pointed to one of the photos beside the desk. 'That is me there!' he declared and stomped away.

A wrong step If you arrived at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel for lunch and found a queue for the lifts consisting of maybe 200 people and stretching through the long entrance hall to the door on Chater Road, would anyone really consider you fanatical if you thought of using the stairs? The staff would.

'Oh no, the stairs are for emergency only,' said a security man, who, on being asked by another visitor the same question two seconds later, decided he had better call for assistance from his boss.

'I have crazy people in the lobby,' he said into the phone - but, to cover himself, he added 'some customers' actually wanted to walk rather than stand in line.

Perhaps we should have queried his adjective, but at the time it all seemed too amazing to contemplate: this was a hotel with no indoor stairs, and a lobby one floor up from the entrance and the only access by lift.

Anyway, 10 minutes later - when alarms had been switched off on the fire stairs and an annoyed group of customers was escorted round the side of the building to a door off the street - we might have agreed with the 'crazy' description: waiting in the line could well have been quicker. And everyone who had asked to use the stairs was a foreigner - which only goes to prove it.

A bull's life The wonderful world of the touros has been broached in Macau's travel glossy, 'Macau Travel Talk'. But its bid to clear up some misconceptions over the controversial blood sport of bullfighting has done little to reassure Backbites.

Veteran of the ring Rui Bento answered some not-so-hard-hitting questions about the sport's impact on the animals.

Asked if the bull actually suffered, he replied: 'The bull undoubtedly has some unpleasant moments, although in Portuguese touradas, as opposed to Spanish fights, it is not killed in the ring.

'His ordeal lasts only a few minutes and before that he has led a privileged lifestyle. For four years or so he has roamed the open range, hardly coming into contact with man,' he said.

We suggest Mr Bento swap his pension prospects for four years in an open field on his tod then. Good sport.

Cup that kills Musclebound members of The Lift Club are being warned against the deadly dangers of caffeine in an alarming report contained in the fitness chain's newsletter.

The melodramatic words of caution sternly inform members that coffee, cola and tea are addictive stimulants that can cause anything from restlessness and muscle twitching to delirium and 'grand mal seizures'.

But it seems to have reached the point of scaremongering when the club concludes its caffeine caution by warning that 'a lethal dose is thought to be 10 grams - or 70 to 100 cups of coffee'. Never mind that you would drown after the 10th cup.

Say that again And it's another telly blunder - or ridiculously insensitive cliche, to be more precise - from TVB Pearl.

Reporting last week on Hurricane Pauline, which lashed the glamorous city of Acapulco, Mexico, anchor Chris Lincoln was guilty of uttering an inappropriate cliche.

The ensuing inundation turned the city into a death trap in which some 400 people perished.

We doubt they would have been ecstatic at hearing Lincoln announce 'and the relief has been flooding in'.