A tragedy occurred last night. Was I the only devoted TVB Pearl typhoon bulletin watcher to spot the demise of cartoon weatherman Freddie? One minute he was clinging to a lamp post in the gales, the next, whoosh! A huge gust of wind wrenched him off and away he went. Gone, presumably never to return, after decades of telling us whether it was safe to venture out without a brolly or not.
Where would we be without Freddie and the other TVB stars on typhoon nights? Those brave reporters stand there, defying the weather in Lei Ye Mun or some other windswept spot, bravely bringing us the latest update. I’m glad to see Health and Safety has got on to them and TVB has forked out for some stylish canary yellow mackintoshes and construction-strength hard hats, instead of those flimsy things they used to wear. Much safer if a rogue flower pot lands on their heads.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, it’s time for a little typhoon housekeeping. Well, there’s nothing else to do and Park’n‘Rob is shut. First the fridge. This resembles an architectural dig, as past-their-sell-by-date items are dragged from the back. Half-eaten packs of fossilised sliced cheese, hard little black lumps that once wee blueberries, ancient half-eaten jars of marmalade sprouting interesting green whiskers. Not much here – ah, that’s because the last typhoon was only a few weeks ago. It hasn’t had time to build up again. Switch to the cupboards. Out come the storm rations: tins of spam and tuna, jars of gherkins, mincemeat and Christmas pudding from last year’s hamper. It’s like one of those challenge rounds on Master Chef – what can you make with this eclectic bunch of ingredients? Not much. Let’s forget solids. So you polish off the dregs of a bottle of gin and remains of some flat tonic instead and wonder would it be really dreadful to open a bottle of wine, by yourself?
Then you remember TVB Freddie is dead, so the storm must be bad, somewhere, even though it’s only drizzling in Happy Valley. The Observatory website has the latest news on Typhoon Usagi, which displayed the usual sense of typhoon timing, waiting until 7pm on a Sunday night to ramp up to signal 8. What use is that to worn-out wage slaves, longing for an extra-long long weekend?
Well done to the folks at the Observatory, they do a fine job. But why did I have to wait until a typhoon to discover that schools were open for business on Sundays?
There it was, an announcement by the Education Bureau. The EDB said that classes of all schools were suspended. But yesterday was Sunday! “Schools should implement contingency measures to ensure the safety of students. They should ensure that conditions are safe before allowing students to return home.” Why has no one ever told us of this great service? Had we known, we could have packed the kids off to school on the sabbath, and saved ourselves all that hassle of minding them on the helper’s day off.
Wan Chai’s typhoon entrepreneurs
And who said Hong Kong’s entrepreneurial spirit was dead? On Saturday afternoon, people were starting to get twitchy and wondering just how to follow the government’s instructions to protect bodies and buildings. News emerged that some opportunist was selling sandbags in Wan Chai. There was a truck, loaded with sand. It was being shovelled into small canvas bags, tied with string and sold. So for HK$84, my friends purchased 12 bags, heaved them into the back of a groaning car and drove off, slowly, for distribution around vulnerable flats. I’m sure the purveyor of sand was making a fortune, but what a useful service. Next typhoon, remember to look for him between the lighting shop and the market on Lockhart Road. In the meantime, please tell me: when taping up windows, should the tape go on the inside or the outside of the glass?