Out to spook the Chi­nese

Hamish and Andy want to in­tro­duce Bei­jing lo­cals to the art of ghost­ing

Herald Sun - Switched On - - News - GREG THOM

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.’’

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