你好/ Ní hǎo / Nín hǎo / Hello / How do,
somebody[suhm-bod-ee, -buhd-ee, -buh-dee]
1. Some person. 2. A person of some note or importance. A person of greater importance than others: he seems to be somebody in this town.
[ Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition]
What makes a somebody? I’ve heard this term banded around so freely in China. It bugs me, because not everyone has had the fortune to rise-up the social classes or has been afforded a chance, a real shot at life. Some are born into poverty, some grit their teeth in a no frills lifestyle and almost everyone tries their hardest to improve themselves. No single person wants to awake each day in shit. Yes, many paths are different, some opt for crime, fraud and treachery, others seek out lawful means. In my humble opinion, saying “he is a somebody” or “she is a somebody” discounts the fact that people are always somebody. I also find that most of the time being a somebody means having money. Yeah, I get business and success, hats off to them for working hard and pushing on. My gripe is along the way, is the questions.
- Were they paying their staff fairly?
- Were they putting profit before quality?
- Did they compete fairly?
- Were laws and regulations followed fairly?
- How clear was their conscience?
- Who did the real work?
The list could go on and on, and I’m not lecturing. Did they recycle more than a box of plastic bottles in their career? Does this make me ethical? I don’t know. I just don’t rate this capitalism lark. The rich get richer and the poorer fall further behind. Life quality may improve but equality is a dream, that has eluded many for many generations and will continue to without a focus on community and bringing balance. Wouldn’t we be much stronger if we supported our poorer communities globally and brought more education to the table? Or should we stay focused on me, myself and I? I get little satisfaction from tunnel-vision about rewarding myself. Don’t get me wrong, I love to improve but seeing others rewarded for teamwork and togetherness is far more nourishing to my soul. So, when I meet people and they are immediately introduced as a “somebody”, I generally think, “I literally couldn’t give a fuck, knobhead.” To others they may inspire, support and do something for the greater good, but wearing a shiny gold watch and belt, parading their flashy investments is not enough for me. Their crocodile skin shoes may be as fake as their smile. For me human kindness is more genuine.
You can either make money fast, or steady in a highly competitive world but at some stage values, principles and moralities must come into focus. Having attended the opening of a Multinational Conglomerate Corporation Group Worldwide’s new mega-city-one-shopping-mall-effort once, one guy played Top Trumps with me. I didn’t enter the game. Still he persisted with, “I ate champagne and drank snails on the Seine.” I’d soon learn how Big Ben looks from The Shard and the London Eye’s V.I.P. suites. If only he knew that Big Ben was the bell, and not the tower. I interjected that the Thames now has octopus and is much cleaner than many years ago. He looked unimpressed. I asked where he visited in the U.K. Just the city of London. Just the centre. He spent five weeks there. Not one museum or walk around the heart if the city. All business. No play. This Panini sticker album of boasts kept going on and on. Eventually Business Man Of The Year from the Province of Most Wonderfulness, asked me, “so what was your best view of a city?” I said, whilst I am from Manchester – the Northern Powerhouse of England, I don’t think cities are the be all and end all of life. I explained how farmers in the U.K are admired and not looked on as peasants like in some countries. I said many aspire to hold idyllic homes built by Transnational Cosmopolitan holdings in quieter places with less traffic and smog. His jaw seemed to drop. He pushed for my greatest city view. I said aside from working in an office overlooking the great Manchester Town Hall, and views of football stadiums, old architecture and the like, cities for me were not amazing. So, then he said his greatest moment was to sit in an office at Trump Towers and see New York. Whilst I admit, New York is a great city, for me the view lacks nature, green and blue. His great moment reeked of cliché. That pong, not only had New York’s wonderful skyline, attached to many romance movies and stories, history etc, but also Donald “Fake-word inventor” Trump added extra buoyancy to it. He pushed me again for my greatest view. Eventually I caved in, and told him, “I had a shit that froze in the Himalayas. The view from the small wooden toilet window was breathtaking. I shed a tear of joy. It was pure beauty.” He didn’t ask for my WeChat I.D.
If the next James Bond novelist needs an inspiration for a baddie, there are loads here in China. Not bad people out-right. Just they fir the platitude and formula required to face up to 007. Between many of them, none have checked a fire extinguisher. Some have probably moved said item to fit a company logo made of copious amounts of precious stone. They’re the sort that open their business with a fashion show of pre-teen girls (and one stand alone boy for good measure). The inappropriate catwalk of minors. Many men, usually in their thirties and upwards, the ones who made illegal massage parlour culture popular, whip out their camera phones and snap away. There is no hint that they are paedophilic in nature. This is not always true. They are just plain improper in their actions. Their snapps line their social media moments, probably unprotected from those they have rarely met. As the skimpy-clad clothing of teenagers departs, on steps a man. He’s usually in his 40’s. He wouldn’t stand out in a street ordinarily. But today, today, he is wearing all white. He has dance moves that everyone’s uncle and father could pull off after a hip replacement. His voice isn’t too bad. It isn’t too good either. The song evolves from Cantopop to a segment of rap which he pulls of in the antonymical meaning of flawlessly. He departs to applause. Singular. His partner is obliged.
Next up comes two children. The cutest ones from the class. They hum and mime a song by TF Boys. Like the TF Boys, they are one voice drop from disappearing forever. Their catchy pop songs will reign eternal as they inject the royalties into their veins. After a talent competition hate-filled juvenile eyes look on at their winning rivals. Throughout the audience product placement is as barefaced – totally unashamed. The latest overly-gassy alcopop sits next to a the most colourful of children’s sweet confectionaries. By the end of the night, the event highlights will have included a smoke machine clashing with a bubble machine. You had to be there. In closing there is a group photoshop and individual photos with a selction of glass phallus-shaped trophies.
Occasionally, through the excessive lighting comes a bright spark of talent and a real clap appears from the audience. Sadly, like Dan Brown novels, you must read many pages to enjoy a chapter or paragraph. Can you get the two hours of time back no? Did you enjoy it? Yes, maybe, but perhaps not in the ways that others did. And that is life. Enjoy every moment, write aggressively and angrily when required or nod, smile and carry on. Do what you love. Love what you do. Hate nothing, but observe and report in your own ways. You never know. You could be talking to Mr Business Man Of The Year from the Province of Most Wonderfulness tomorrow. It doesn’t mean it will all be bad. Share your favourite view from a bathroom.
再见/ Zài jiàn / Bài bài / Ta’ra / Goodbye