Posted by: Sam Olsen | July 3, 2012

The Chronicles of Larry: the day we were nearly eaten alive (almost)

So it’s some kind of holiday here so we’re all at the beach. 5,000 people on a piece of sand the size of a tennis court. Spacey.

Dad pulls the lucky straw and gets to hang out in the sea with me. Dodging the plastic bags, used takeaway dishes and bits of frayed rope is good fun for him, I’m sure. I of course am perched above the waves, making him move this way and that with judicious twitches of his left earlobe.

He’s finally had enough, alas, so he heads for the shore, brushing the oil globules off as he wades. Then…pow! A Chinese voice comes over the tannoy, precipitating a tsunami of locals coming off the sea. Not sure what’s going on, but the other gwailos don’t seem to be bothered, bobbing around the ocean like softly frying whitebait.

Hong Kong beach this weekend

Dad’s cleverer than he looks, only rarely of course, but this is one of those times. He spies Mum through the surging crowd and puts his hand straight up over his head, Jaws-style. Sure enough, with the magical relocation of the Chinese tourist population from sea to beach complete, a reedy American English voice comes over the speaker: “A large fish has been spotted. Please leave the water immediately, or swim to a raft”. Now, normally, Dad would have heard those words with the panic of a man waking up from a deep sleep to the sound of the crematorium burners being started around him. But given his untimely prescience he instead serenely supervises the rescue operation, all the while singing “Show me the way to go home“. Er, just jump in a taxi? Simple man.  Good thing I’m keeping my eye on him.

What’s really great about this whole evacuation thing is that all the swimmers, who are the first to be saved by a phalanx of yellow-jerseyed lifeguards, are behind a shark-net. Apart from the worrying lack of confidence in the steadfastness of this particular protection device, the kayak-school kids merrily plying their way through the choppy waves, over-turning and waiting an age for their chubby teacher to come and rescue them, don’t seem to have been given the message. Neither do the old-aged windsurfers flopping about at the other side of the bay. Eventually a life guard paddles his way over to them all, and within a snappy hour the bay has been cleared. Good thing the authorities have a good understanding of where the danger really lies.

After a couple of hours watching the horizon for a fin, or even a shadow, Dad finally realises his spotting prowess isn’t needed. Sadly he turns away from the sea and packs up his stuff, ignoring Mum’s continuous stream of jokes and guffawing. He looks disappointed. Until that is, I remind him I had left his house keys on one of the rafts out in the bay. Swim, anyone?


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