Sunday, January 15, 2012


Say what you like about staring out a window for several hours a day - we writers do it all the time. Sometimes it even pays off.

As previously mentioned, we moved house
over the holidays. This is now the scene from
the Tiger Father nerve centre - a marvelous
view, facing north, of what I like to call
"Building number nine in our compound".
So moved was I by its beauty the other day,
I thought I'd take a photo.

While whistling tunelessly and every
so often glancing back at my computer
to see if any prose had written itself, I
thought I'd zoom in for one of those
artsy shots of the side of a building.
I saw one recently at an art fair here. It
sold for thousands. So I thought if that
guy could do it, so could I. And that's
when I noticed my shot had a possibly
priceless quirk to it. Right in the centre
of the building, there was one air-con
unit which was out of line, all on its own.

And it had a bloke on it!

Now, I don't know how much you know
about OHS (Occupational Health &
Safety) guidelines but when it comes
to Chinese workplace practices, you
might say this nation is not so
preoccupied by them, and is instead
preoccupied more by the can-do spirit.

This worker was eight floors up when told
to get out there and fix the AC. At least
we hope he was. We hope he wasn't just
doing this for fun. To be fair the picture
shows he has a colleague there near him.
To be fair again, that colleague was
doing something else. I held my breath,
willing the man to get inside quickly.

Instead he was just turning around.

Our man continued to do his work free
of such encumbrances as a safety harness
or a rope. He's got a nice pair of leather
office shoes on. Gloves are clearly for
pansies. I checked the weather at that
point and it showed it was -8 celsius
with a wind chill of -13 (8 degrees
farenheit). At least he had a jumper on.

Oh my God. As they say in the workplace
safety manuals, it's squeaky bum time -
and not the time to demonstrate how to
ride a horse at full gallop. At this point the
man's life depends largely on the strength of
some electrical cables installed by
God-knows who and who knows when.

When you live high-rise in China, you also get used to
sights like this. There's no shortage of people who'll
take the job. Mind you, official figures show
79,552 people died in workplace accidents
in China in 2010 - an average of 218 per day. This
compared with a total of 171 workplace deaths in the UK
for the whole 12 months to March last year. When
population size is taken into account, China's workplace
death rate is more than 21 times higher than Britain's.

I showed a Chinese friend this famous picture.
He said: "So?"

1 comment:

  1. So glad you're back online - this is so funny.