Thursday, May 16, 2013


Summer's here! And yet again that can only mean one thing - great T-shirts!

And the spies come out too! But more on that later.

What's that, I hear you say? Summer doesn't begin until the solstice on June 21? Or even on June 1 by some crude over-simplified calendars?

Not in Beijing it doesn't. Here, spring lasts for about a week. We go from freezing cold to boiling hot in the blink of an eye. I can't explain exactly why. But I think it's something to do with the weather.

Doesn't matter. The worst thing about winter isn't the cold. It's that you don't get funny fashion.

As I always say ...

A brave man for wearing this to evoke some
good ol' feudal days. That's why I can't show
his face. Kind of.

Remember readers, all photos of attention-grabbing sloganised T-shirts are greatly appreciated here if you can snap them and send them in. The best one might win a prize!

And don't forget, in China in the summer, if you want to roam the streets in your pyjamas, it's OK and you're OK.

And if you want to walk around
with a plastic bag on your head,
that's fine too.

Speaking of hats, here's former Brazil football superstar Ronaldinho.

And here's one of his biggest fans, who I bumped into today on her morning stroll.

Mrs Lao Taitai, of Beijing, says she's
"football loopy", and lists the buck-toothed
ex-Barcelona striker as her number one.
"You can say what you like about Messi,
Rooney, Kaka and the rest of them. For me
it's Ronaldinho all the way," said Mrs Lao,
116. "That goal he scored against England
in the 2002 World Cup? Quality."

This was only the second Ronaldinho hat seen by your faithful fashion policeman in 10 minutes. Perhaps a truck carrying them to the airport crashed near the Silk Market.

Maybe it was this one - an early candidate for 'load of the month'.

Better hope there's a human
under there somewhere.

Ronaldinho was always good at taking corners. Wish we could say the same for this Beijing driver.

It's alright - the kids aren't in danger.
The driver's not rounding the corner.
He's parked there.
For not just parking on a corner but
a mile away from it, on the crosswalk
and all, without a shit given, this person
wins our Park of the Month award.

Then we hopped in our own car and were soon enjoying ourselves along the capital's second ring road, which looked something like this ...

By the side of that road I snapped a photo of this entrepreneurial chap ...

You can imagine driving home from work ...
"Got the milk, got the bread - OH BUGGER! Forgot
one large live turtle!
The wife's gonna kill ... Oh thank God!"

Or if turtle doesn't whet your amphibian appetite, here's what one of our local restaurants was offering recently ...

Parsley, sage, rosemary and frog.

Or perhaps ...

They've given up on getting it right by the

But a pushbike is still a great way to get around in summer, though it seems - as documented here previously - that spell-checker is still in the mail.

Happy Holidags! From the good people at Gaont.
(Any resemblance to huge bicycle manufacturing
conglomerate Giant is purely coincidental).

Well that settles that then!

Is it to evoke the song Straighten Up and Fly Harw?
Or a pitch to rugby fans with a local pronunciation
of the man behind the scrum, the fly-half?

My ride was going well until my tender sensibilities were offended by this lewd piece of street art, a sort of tribute, I imagined, to phallic rock bands such as Motley Crue and Poison.

However, upon raising a petition entitled "Ban This Filth", I was told it was not lewd at all, but clever.

I soon encountered more funny business at this stand for exhibitionists by a canal.

And discovered my seven-year-old daughter was enrolled in the "What The F*ck Tae-Kwon-Do" school.

I also found this ...

It's true. After you've lived here for a while, you learn to treat anything that you understand as a bonus.

*  *  *


There were no doubts about what I uncovered when back in my apartment, however. I often like to take a look south from the Tiger Father lair over the Australian Embassy, to make sure my taxpayer-funded public servants are hard at it.

But when I did so this afternoon you could have knocked me down with a feather. There, unfolding before my very eyes, was a good old-fashioned spy scandal!

The photos speak for themselves. Indignantly, I shall be forwarding our Prime Minister Julia Gillard a link to my blog forthwith.

When I first looked out my window, it looked like any
other ordinary day. There's the Australian Embassy,
looking as beautiful, friendly and welcoming as ever,
if also a lot like a Soviet-era prison.

I usually feel extremely proud when
I see this - the unmistakable sight
of the Australian flag! Unless it's
New Zealand. Or Fiji or one of them.
"But wait," I thought, "what's this?
Spies on the roof? The nerve of these

I stopped to wonder if my keen journalist's mind wasn't over-imagining things.

But then came the final proof.

As blatant as you please, if you don't mind!
Instantly, again with media training, I dubbed it
"Australian Embassy, Beijing-gate".

It was astonishing to see Chinese intelligence officers are still doing it old-school. I mean, who can forget when I was on the other end of the stick - the day The Tiger Father's offices themselves came under equally intense scrutiny.

As I continued to snap these tell-all pictures, the spies went about their business with seemingly not a care in the world while doing what spies do - screwing in wires, and sitting down.

After some time, one of the operatives was seen to walk in a southerly direction, presumably to test out one of the crude listening devices the crack team had just installed ...

... while one of his partners made his getaway.

Operative 1, the so-called "Man In The Hat", then went and ferreted around in a secret white box, where he appeared to have stashed some radio equipment, probably the night before ...

... and radioed in his position to probably someone else in the country's top-secret spy bureau the Communist Interference Association (CIA).

The spy was only seconds away from a dramatic, commando-style helicopter-rooftop escape when our investigative reporting team had to go pick up his kids from school.

So we don't really know what happened then.

But later, when we phoned the Embassy to report our findings, a spokesman told us in no uncertain terms: "Who are you again?" and "I've no idea what you're talking about."

No doubt there'll be more heard of this in the coming days.

*  *  *

More on Monday, readers! Meanwhile for a fun look at why Australians are so hard, copy and paste this link into your browser!

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