Out to spook the Chinese
Hamish and Andy want to introduce Beijing locals to the art of ghosting
FOX FM’S top-rating drive duo Hamish and Andy are ready to tackle Beijing in the middle of the Olympic Games, but is the Chinese capital ready for Hamish and Andy?
If the pair’s quirky sense of humour doesn’t already set them apart from the locals, their towering 190cm frames ensure they stand out from the crowd.
‘‘We flew in on Friday night and it feels like we’ve been here for four years,’’ Hamish Blake says from the humid and sticky capital.
‘‘It’s amazing. I think we’ve met most of China’s one billion people. It’s crowded. It’s exciting. It’s a great atmosphere.’’
Hamish and Andy are presenting their show from Beijing this week in what is a logistical challenge, even for such well-travelled veterans who have broadcast from Afghanistan and the Australian Outback.
‘‘It’s sort of like going camping, because you really do have to take everything with you,’’ Blake says.
‘‘I’m sure somewhere in the city they’ve got things we might need, but there’s no way of knowing how to get them to where we need them.
‘‘So it’s a case of bringing absolutely everything. But really, it’s 10 per cent preparation and 90 per cent winging it for Andy and I, which is what makes it exciting.’’
The duo can’t broadcast from inside official venues, but that won’t stop them trying to catch some Olympic action if they can secure scarce tickets to events, along with soaking up the atmosphere and cheering on the Aussies.
‘‘We’re in a building shaped like the Olympic flame, opposite the Bird’s Nest (main stadium) and the Cube (swimming complex). We’ve got an amazing location,’’ Blake says.
‘‘For us, it’s the excitement around the Games rather than being able to broadcast the action.’’
It’s also the little things, such as the local cuisine.
‘‘The food is very interesting,’’ Blake says diplomatically. ‘‘Dog has remained on the menu and frog remains a staple, certainly in the neighbourhood we’re staying in.
‘‘On the other hand, McDonald’s is incredibly cheap over here.’’
Blake says he understands Chinese officialdom may not exactly be on the same page when it comes to their mischievous sense of humour.
‘‘We don’t want to freak them out, but I think we are certainly interested in finding where the line is and then very quietly stepping one pace back from the line, with our hands in the air, smiling and nodding politely.’’
Given the Chinese authorities’ extreme sensitivity, Blake acknowledges they will have to tread warily.
‘‘I think they do cut us a bit of slack. If we are doing what they consider illegal or getting in the way of things, they are quite polite in telling you not to do it.
‘‘But if you did it again, then perhaps some of the fiercer English would come out.’’
Blake says the pair have had fun passing themselves off as athletes, a ruse helped enormously by their height.
‘‘They think we’re swimmers or basketballers. They can never tell.
‘‘I keep trying to tell everyone I’m a rhythmic gymnast, but I don’t think they believe me.
‘‘You do get treated like royalty when people think you’re athletes.
‘‘I feel we’re cheating a bit because we’ve got all the glory of being an athlete without having to suffer through the training.’’
BLAKE also hints the sport of ghosting, pioneered by himself and Lee, could make its inaugural appearance at the Games.
‘‘There are some whispers that there might be a few ghosting teams within the city, though in true ghosting style, they are yet to be detected. We’ll have to wait and see.’’
Though not sure if the Chinese will take to ghosting — walking as close as possible to someone — he says they should seize the day.
‘‘If China really wants to open itself up to the world, why not get in on the ground at the world’s fastestgrowing sport?’’
Andy Lee says he’s not worried about becoming separated from his on-air partner in a city bursting at the seams with people.
‘‘Hamish and I are 190.5cm and can see each other in big crowds. The problem is trying to swim through them to get back to each other when we’re about 60m apart.’’