Thursday, 27 March 2014


Tourism is a surprisingly large part of the London economy, so I always try to be helpful and friendly to tourists so that they go back to their country and tell their family and friends how nice the natives are (ha!).

So what I often do is to ask the person taking a picture of their companion(s) whether they'd like to get in the shot and I'll take the picture of the whole group, which most tourists like (I don't look like the sort of person who'd run off with their camera/mobile phone, so they usually say 'yes').

[It's always nice when you're a tourist somewhere and somebody offers to do it for you, although they usually forget that if there is a church spire or something in the background, they are supposed to shift the camera angle so that it appears to be growing out of somebody's head. Or that's what is says you should do in all the books.]

Anyway, on the way home, I espied an old Chinese guy taking a picture of his wife in front of some London landmark or other, and as is my wont, was just about to ask him when I noticed that his wife (who had had her back to me thus far) was wearing a full face mask, a bit like this:
That wouldn't have been so bad, but she was wearing a wide brimmed hat and had the collar of her nondescript anorak pulled up as well.

Dude WTF? How was he even sure it was his wife? When he proudly shows the folks back home his holiday snaps, how will they know it was his wife?

Or maybe they were taking stock photos for poor Chinese people who can't afford to go on holiday in London but would like to pretend they have done.

Who knows..?


Brian said...

Ha, you good samaritan you.

Far eastern people wear masks when they have colds. Its a courtesy thing so you do not spread it to others through coughing etc. Also, it gives someone a visual message of "Don't come too close, I'm sick and don't want to infect you."

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, perhaps. I assumed it was because she was scared of pollution.

But either way, why would she not whip it off for a few seconds for the photo?

Brian said...

Well in my experience Chinese cities are way more polluted than London, but it could be a new thing to wear "pollution masks" since the Chinese government is openly tackling pollution now.

Still, in all my years in Japan I do not think I ever saw a sick person in public who was wearing a mask whip it off for anything. Its considered quite rude if you are sick and out of the house not to wear a mask at all times.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, ah, I didn't know that. The husband wasn't wearing a mask.

Bayard said...

Brian, it sounds like a custom we could usefully adopt over here. Much better use for the NHS's money than, say, funding pointless reports on the smoking ban. I don't suppose the masks are very expensive, either. Perhaps someone should write to the Hulture, sorry, Health Secretary and suggest it.

Graeme said...

but the masks are clinically's just gesture-Fascism

Bayard said...

So that old advice about catching your coughs and sneezes in a hankerchief was bollocks as well was it?

OTOH even if the masks do nothing, it's quite handy to be able to say "I have a cold, keep away" without hanging a sign round your neck that says "I have a cold, keep away".