Thursday, March 17, 2011

St Patrick's Day and nudity

Today is St Patrick's Day, the time of the year when it's traditional for Americans to pretend they're Irish, drink Guinness, talk about 'the craic' and dye the water going through Boston green. Or some such. I'm not well versed in this, because my knowledge of Irish Americans comes solely from films where they're either salt-of-the-earth blokes or dodgy tattooed scratters who'll feed you to their dog. Coming from the impoverished European island that is England, I had to content myself with Irish Irish people, rather than the ostensibly more glamourous American version. Irish Irish people are a bit like Irish Americans, except they don't go on about 'the craic' one day of the year, because they're all boozed out of their heads on Guinness. All of the year. And besides, I'm pretty sure that 'the craic' is something you get if you freebase 'the cocaine'.

You wouldn't notice it was St Patrick's Day in Hong Kong, because this was a colony established by the British, who in their imperial phase did as much as they could to suppress any other culture, and after we handed it back to China, well, they're not a nation known for their love of beards, stout or small men dressed in green.  They do seem to like gold, but I don't think the People's Republic consider storing it in pots at the end of the rainbow a particularly secure location.

There was little opportunity to spot any St Patrick's Day parade if one had occurred in Hong Kong, because I was tucked away in the office all day, only seeing daylight once when I went scurrying to Pret A Manger to buy a felafel wrap.  Yeah, that's how I celebrate saints' days, with an appropriation of an ethnic foodstuff by a chain of generic sandwich shops.

I wasn't going to go outside for any longer than I had to, because there was talk of a naked woman on the street.  Apparently a woman took off all her clothes outside the McDonald's on the corner of our street yesterday.  I would have dismissed this as nothing more than rumour mongering, but an article in today's South China Morning Post confirmed that a woman took off her clothes and ran down Queen's Road.

Although to be fair, the police said she was still wearing a t-shirt.  I insist on my naked women being properly naked, thanks, not just a bit naked.  And I prefer it if they don't get hit by motor vehicles and have to be taken to hospital, while the police pronounce them to not be on the drugs or mentally ill.  That's just my preference, I don't want to prescribe how you behave.

If that wasn't enough nudity for you, I also saw a list of naked professions on The Daily Beast today, which started with a therapist who practises in the nude, and went downhill from there.

God, that sounds like I mean something more disgusting than I actually do. I'll try again.

If you're in need of therapy, I'm not sure it will be helped by having a slightly bored-looking, topless woman staring at you and taking notes. But then again, who am I to judge? Maybe you had an early trauma involving clothes. Or perhaps you're suffering from naked yoga, a naked carpenter, or a naked haircut after you've bought a coffee from a naked barista. The final naked job brought us back to Hong Kong, where we saw a truly Naked Chef; Flora Cheung, the presenter of the first Cantonese-language cooking show in Hong Kong where the chef is naked. (Which is rather a lot of qualifiers - I wonder if there are many non-Cantonese-language cooking shows in Hong Kong with chefs lacking something in the wardrobe department.)

She wears a transparent apron to protect against hot splashes - it covers everything but hides nothing, apparently - which reminded me of some research done a few years ago to investigate whether it's dangerous to fart on food or not. Apparently it's only unhygienic if you're not wearing any clothes, because then the gas can blow fragments of skin and fecal matter onto the food, which is prevented by having a layer of trousers in the way. (This was discovered, as I remember, by getting Australian test subjects to fart onto petri dishes and then studying the results, which either says something about the Australian national character, or about me for remembering these details.) So if Flora Cheung carries on with this career, I suppose she should keep her backside pointed away from the food, and try to avoid flatulence.

I'm not sure if that really added to the sum of human knowledge, or not. I know from reading his blog that my brother doesn't think much of the study of the sex-lives of fruitbats, so I don't know what he'd make of kitchen-fart research. Probably best not to ask, I conclude.


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