December 10 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
They may have constructed an Olympic stadium which looked like a three-year-old’s scribble, but when it came to spitting in the street, I was right behind the Chinese (wearing goggles and my patented ‘spittle shield’ I developed for Gentleman’s Walk).
Amid all the Olympic hype, I have yet to see anything that rivals the brilliant Bejing Better Manners Campaign which launched ahead of the 2008 games with a series of fabulous advertisements encouraging people to offer Olympic visitors directions – regardless of whether they wanted them – to be polite and to stop spitting in the street.
“Our target is for 80pc of citizens not to spit in public by the Olympics,” said Wang Tao, a better-manners campaigner.
Even at the time, this seemed like far too small a figure: one nearer to 99.9 per cent (allowing for the 0.1pc who’ve just accidentally swallowed one of those slimy gherkins that lurks in McDonalds’ burgers) would be much more acceptable.
Swearing, belching and queue jumping were also cracked down on, but most ambitious of all was Bejing’s Speak Foreign Languages Programme which aimed to stamp out silly translations before the world descended on China.
The efficiency drive saw the sad demise of “Racist Park” (the ethnic minorities museum) and ‘the slippery are crafty’ signs for wet roads.
Obscenities on the walls, spitting in the street, belching, swearing: at least the British were at home in Bejing and now we can extend the welcome to the Chinese here in London.