Summer had been going on for a while and I hadn't done anything cultural for months. I was feeling, quite simply, uncultured. Culture-less. Then on a dog walk one morning I was riveted by a beautiful yet poignant sight: The bow (stern?) of the Titanic, rising up from the waves, unaware of what was to befall her only a few days later. It was, in short, a poster for a Titanic exhibition.
I was in there like a shot - well, a few weeks later - because I am fascinated with the story of the Titanic and have read many books about it. I also accidentally watched the film Titanic, against my will, on a long haul flight.
The exhibition was... well, beautiful. They also played the kind of funereal music that will make the tears start running as soon as you walk through the door, even if the coffin contains a total stranger. The best thing about the exhibition was a large model of the Titanic with openings cut out of the sides so you could see where all the state rooms, ballrooms and rooms for the plebs were.
A particularly poignant sight were the instruments - the actual instruments according to the plaque - on which the orchestra were said to play Nearer my God to thee, as the ship went down.
This has since been well and truly debunked; in fact, unwilling to bring the whole evening down, they were, according to survivors, playing a somewhat cheery waltz. All the musicians perished.
But if all the musicians, only one of whose body was found, died, how could their instruments be recovered and now injury-less, in an exhibition? A violin, yes, but surely a trombone, or the trombone exhibited, couldn't float to the surface. Also, none of the musicians are listed as a trumpet or trombone player - in fact they played in a string octet. Is it churlish of me to question whether the instruments are authentic?
Talking of drowning, the same week as I went to the exhibition, Hong Kong was first hit by a typhoon number 10 (8 is the highest, normally) and, a few days later, torrential rain and flash floods. It was strange to see film clips from the MTR (Hong Kong's underground train system) with water cascading down the escalators in a Niagara like fashion and onto the trains. HK people, being level headed, didn't flinch or run away, but calmly put their feet on the seats and kept filming. Nothing can stop Hong Kong people from going to work.
By an amazing (?) coincidence, that week's podcast was also about weather, primarily rain!
Now you can learn, not only rain and flooding related words in Cantonese, but ALL the words! All you have to do is:
Today's Cantonese: 十號風球 Sap hou fung kao - 10 number windball (Typhoon signal number 10 -all is explained in the podcast! )