Sunday, January 22, 2012

A welcome alternative

I'm afraid I find the protracted celebrations of the Chinese New Year a colossal bore; and the constant risk of witnessing or suffering a serious injury through the attendant reckless use of fireworks wears on my fragile nerves.

The two Chinese New Years I've enjoyed most - out of the ten that have passed since I moved here - have been the two when I managed to escape from the country for a fortnight and avoid almost the whole thing. The third best was the one where I went up to the far north-eastern city of Harbin for the second half of the holiday (where the public revels somehow seem to have more genuine joie de vivre and less tiresome overkill than they do here in the capital).

But tonight, at least, I have a good reason to stay at home, and to try to ignore the tedious barrage outside. The English Football Association - with a wanton cultural insensitivity -  has seen fit to schedule two of the most important matches in the Premiership season for this biggest of Chinese festival days: the 1st versus 3rd teams in the league, followed by the 2nd versus the 5th. And both are being shown live on local Beijing sports station BTV6.

On any other day, I would be tempted to trek across town to try and catch a game of such magnitude in a sports bar, with the benefit of an English commentary. But tonight.... it's arse-freezing cold, there are very few cabs, and there are people lobbing explosives into the middle of the sidewalk every few yards. I'm quite happy staying at home, thank you.

I just hope this insane firework mayhem quietens down decently early this year. Last year, it seemed to have pretty much burnt itself out by half past midnight; but it has been known to drag on until 2am or 3am. Sleep can be in short supply over the next two weeks.

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