I was in a second hand bookshop the other day and I picked up a copy of P.J O'Rourke's Eat the Rich.
Now I'm up to page three and so far he's pretty funny, he was speculating that possibly the secret to the good life lies in civilisation, and he has this to say about it:
'The Chinese had an ancient and sophisticated civilisation when my relatives were hunkering in trees. (Admittedly that was last week, but they'd been drinking.) In 1000 B.C., when Europeans were barely using metal to hit each other over the head, the Zhou dynasty Chinese were casting ornate vessels big enough to take a bath in - something else no contemporary European had done. Yet, today, China stinks.'
I wonder how many copyright rules I have just broken by quoting that? Oh well, this is the Internet, I don't even exist. I am actually a sixty-five year old man with fourteen cats living in Langdon, North Dakota.
Anyway, he's right, China does stink - of cigarette smoke. That's one thing I didn't know about the Chinese until earlier this year- they are outstandingly efficient at ignoring 'No Smoking' signs. If it was an Olympic sport (unfortunately you're going to have to wait until 2028 before it is introduced), I am sure they'd be medalists.
But then maybe it's just me, or one of those lost-in-translation things, maybe the English 'No Smoking' signs have actually been translated poorly and they should, in fact, read, 'Please Smoke Excessively.'
Moving right along, I think Mr O'Rourke is also (how can I say this without sounding like I have the IQ of a carrot), a little generous with his language for someone like me. We are talking about a man who throws around phrases like, 'no variety of love is too trivial for exegesis', and 'the most hardheaded and unspeculative of persons has his notions of eschatology,' and 'we are earnest scholars of amorosity and necrosis.'
Are you just trying to sound brainy or do you just enjoy confusing poor clods like me? I mean instead of saying 'no variety of love is too trivial for exegesis' why can't you say, 'we waste endless amounts of time naval gazing about love.'
And instead saying 'the most hardheaded and unspeculative of persons has his notions of eschatology' what's wrong with, 'everyone, regardless of religion or belief has their own theory about what happens after they kick the bucket.'
What's wrong with 'we will talk about love and death till the cows come home' instead of 'we are earnest scholars of amorosity and necrosis.'
Oh well, horses for courses.
Or, as Mr O'Rourke might say, equus caballus for bacchanalian feasts.
So I am going to leave you with a feast I didn't order earlier in the year. And I'm wondering whether any Olympians will get to taste this little delicacy I spotted on a menu in January. I know dog's off the menu in Beijing for the time being, couldn't tell you about the availability of the other tasty treats.
First, you must catch your rat.......