Life

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The Untold Story

Filed in Dragonball (2008), Durango, Mx (2008), Entertainment Ind., General, Life, Travel, WorkTags: , , , ,

A little over a year ago, I ran into 發哥 and was subsequently given a photograph of myself taken by this amazing man. It was in fact a chance encounter. 發哥 had not planned it, nor had I, but the encounter happened, and just as he was about to leave, it suddenly occurred to 發哥 to ask me if I'd teach English. If it was anyone else, I'd have immediately replied no, but this was 發哥 and I instead answered yes.

Perhaps it was pre-destined that 發哥 would not be able to contact me multiple times in his earnest attempt to deliver the photo to me. Perhaps this repeated failure to locate me kept me on his mind, so much so that when he needed an English coach to help him with his dubbing work on the new The Children of Huang Shi movie, he thought of me and tried to contact me yet once again. For the first time in 4 months, I was able to answer the phone and we spoke.

I had never heard of the dialect coach vocation, and yet, I had now become one. I was uniquely qualified. Twenty years of acting in a second language gave me unique insight into the challenges faced by someone like 發哥 working in Hollywood. Twenty years of acting gave me great understanding of the work of an actor, and twenty years of rarely speaking English while watching Hollywood-produced television and movies had eradicated all but a pinch of my Australian accent. Being fluent in Cantonese was also going to be invaluable, more so in the interpersonal relationship than in the act of teaching itself because 發哥's conversational English is quite good.

At the end of May, I began working with 發哥; almost on a daily basis; in preparation for the movie dubbing. When we arrived at the dubbing studio for the first day of dubbing, the director didn't recognise me and asked who I was. 發哥's assistant replied that I was his dialog coach, and that I was Australian. Whoa! The director's face sagged almost all the way to the floor. He was incredulous and concerned. Who would want an Australian dialect coach??? He was not happy, but his entire demeanour changed over the next few hours of dubbing and by lunch time, he was very pleased. 發哥's work was impressive and dubbing was proceeding smoothly.

It was coincidentally at this very same time that I was contemplating going to London to audition for the Musical Theatre degree at the University of London, but it was also a time when my singing voice was completely shut down as a consequence of overuse in the "They’re Playing Our Song (2007)" musical. Other factors beyond my control also conspired to stop me going to London, and so it was that I remained in Hong Kong and began working with 發哥 instead.

After dubbing had been completed, 發哥 requested that we work together weekly, and our long term working relationship began.

November came, and I was asked by TVB to renew my contract which was due to expire in January of 2008. For two years, I had contemplated my future and the only future I could see if I remained at TVB was that of a saddened unfulfilled elderly Caucasian actor still performing the bread crumb roles that occasionally fell my way. Over the previous months, 發哥 had repeatedly hinted that he would like me to work with him on location in his future Hollywood projects. Nothing was guaranteed, but it was a possibility none the less.

Twenty-one years ago, I took a gamble and bought a one-way air ticket to Hong Kong to follow my dreams. My life has been incredible. I met and married my wonderful wife. I have an incredible loving family, both human and canine, and I have made some wonderful friends over the years. I've had an unimaginable acting career with TVB and am recognised and thought well of by numerous people both in Hong Kong and overseas. I have no regrets, only gratitude. Now however, I felt that it time to once again buy a one-way ticket, this time away from TVB to destinations unknown, and I therefore submitted to TVB a letter of intent not to renew my contract.

It was the first week of December, and I was working with 發哥 in his home. Not more than fifteen minutes into our session, 發哥 informed me that he had accepted a role in the new Dragonball movie, and that we would be leaving for Mexico within the first week of January. I was in complete shock! This was totally unexpected and it was going to take some time to get used to the idea. I knew that 發哥 was considering one or two projects but I had no idea that we would be leaving so soon, and that we would be going away for so long; three months!

The future is not ours to plan, only to prepare for. We were scheduled to leave Hong Kong on January 1 but my contract with TVB was not due to finish until January 6. I could logically leave without consequence because I was not obliged to film any more episodes at TVB. I had fulfilled my contract obligations for the year. However, things could always become sticky if TVB wanted to make a point so it would not be prudent to leave before my contract expired. I wanted to leave with absolutely no strings attached and no concerns. I wanted complete freedom to move on in my life. Who could have guessed that because of continued negotiations with the movie's producers, our date of departure was pushed back to January 9! Perfect timing and none of it was my doing. Some things are meant to be.

So it is that I find myself sitting in a hotel room in Durango Mexico, working for one of the Hong Kong masters of acting, and well and truly taking the first steps of the next stage of my life.

Life: Stage 2 Begins

Filed in Dragonball (2008), Durango, Mx (2008), Life, Travel, TVB (H.K.) 香港無線電視, WorkTags:

Twenty years ago, I was working as an English tutor in the 育成 tutorial centre in Causeway Bay when one day, one of the teachers working with me told me of a poster at her school searching for a Cantonese-speaking Caucasian to act for a TVB series. I called the number she gave me and a Pakistani agent answered the phone. I was very unsure of my chances because at the time, I had absolutely no acting training or experience of any kind save for a few extra roles in high school plays. The agent however was reassuring, and encouraged me to go to the interview. He was reassuring because he could find no one else. I was his only chance.

At the interview with Miss 曾勵珍, I sat frozen in my seat looking at the few lines of English dialog in the script she had handed me. As the minutes of tense silence passed, I told myself that if I didn't take the chance and speak the lines no matter how badly I might say them, I would regret it for the rest of my life. When I finally spoke the lines with a loud reprimanding voice as apparently required by the scene in question, Miss 曾勵珍 who had turned her back to me, jumped in her seat, startled by my sudden outburst. I wasn't good, but again, TVB could find no one else and I was hired to play my first TVB role, a police officer in the series 「大茶園」. That was January 1988, a very long time ago, and a very special moment in my life.

Two years ago, as I had frequently done before, I once again seriously considered my future. Even with eighteen years of loyal service to TVB, I was still seemingly insignificant in their eyes, or at least not significant enough to be given heavier roles. I do not grudge TVB for this because Hong Kong is after all a Chinese region and as such, major Caucasian roles are almost always unnecessary. Regardless, I could not see a happy ending for myself if I walked the safe path and stayed at TVB. I decided to leave. When I informed TVB of my decision, they implored me to stay on, signing a freer one-show no-salary contract instead of the regular monthly-salary contract. I agreed and stayed on, but as time passed, I was time and time again reminded that my value at TVB would always be less than ideal.

The last few years have seen many important events in my life. My wife lost her parents who I was close to. I starred for the first time in a musical stage production "They’re Playing Our Song (2007)" and enjoyed a creative development process which was not possible in all my years at TVB, while at the same time missing out on the long-running Caucasian role in TVB's 「同事三分親」. And I encountered the one and only 周潤發.

In November of 2007, I informed TVB in writing that I would not be renewing my contract. On the 27th of December 2007, I performed for the last time at TVB. The 6th of January 2008 was officially my last day at TVB, almost exactly twenty years after my first day at TVB. On the 8th of January 2008, I was on a Cathay Pacific flight, taking the first steps of the next stage of my life.

As one magazine recently put it, the (TVB) 河國榮 era has come to an end.

At this very moment as I sit typing this in a hotel restaurant in Mexico's Durango, I am no longer a TVB artist. I have begun the next stage in my life and I'm excited at what might ensue.

Coming soon… The Untold Story

Will London have me?

Filed in General, Life

I have just one goal this week, one thing that must be completed before the holiday weekend begins. I must complete and dispatch my application to study a (Postgraduate Diploma or MA) degree in Musical Theatre at the University of London.

Henry (the director of "They’re Playing Our Song (2007)") gave me a list of institutions that he thought would have something to offer me in my quest to improve my acting skills. I checked all of their web sites and only two offered subject courses which I felt would be appropriate to my current needs. After further consideration, I decided to apply to the University of London.

There is no guarantee that I'll be accepted. In fact, it might be a long shot but I have to try anyway. I have no other degrees. All I have is 19 years of experience, acceptable acting and singing abilities, and a desire to learn. Combined with the fact that I would be a foreigner and a 'senior' student, this will hopefully be enough to get me into the course.

I won't know if I get accepted for at least a month. I'll let you know what happens ;-)

For those concerned, rest assured that I will continue to work with TVB. It is simply my hope that I'll be able to expand my horizons and branch out into movies and musical theatre, especially musical theatre. Acting and singing on stage is just so incredible!

Update (April 4, 2007)

The application was completed and handed over to the local FedEx people this afternoon at 5.30pm. Now I need to relax (my vocal chords are still inflamed; my doctor said that I really must shut up for at least a few days) and prepare just in case they consider my application and request an audition.

Update (April 24, 2007)

I have received an invitation to an audition to be held in London on June 23. It's going to be tough but I'll do my best. Six weeks to go…

It’s Not a Narcotic

Filed in General, LifeTags:

It has the affects of a narcotic but it's not a drug.

When I have it, I'm happy.

When I am about to be separated from it, I feel upset and frustrated.

When I am without it, I am mildly depressed, unhappy, lethargic, restless. I want it back. I think about it. I dream about it. Its influence and its absence can lead me to do things and make decisions that I would not otherwise do or make.

And yet, it is not mine to control or own, and it cannot within sane reason be a part of my life for it would disrupt what I already have. It might evolve to bring pleasure but it would more likely bring disorder, perhaps even disaster.

Logically, I should minimise my exposure to it, but its affects are so strong and desirable that this may be impossible for me to do.

One future day in my acting career, I will hopefully be able to recall and use the collection of feelings that this thing produces in me. For the time being though, I must wrestle with it, analyse it, accept it, refuse it, ignore it, and eventually move on.

It is not love. It is not sex. It is not a narcotic, nor is it a drug, at least not the kind that we normally associate with the word. And while in many ways it may be similar to caffeine, it's effect is far more virulent.

Fortunately, it will not be here forever, and once it is gone, I will be freed from its spell although even that event itself will bring me some sorrow.

Life. What an adventure!

Sacrifices

Filed in Events, Life, They’re Playing Our Song (2007), WorkTags:

Dreams don't come cheap. They require sacrifices. It's up to you whether your dream justifies the sacrifices.

"They're Playing Our Song" is definitely a big part of my evolving dream. Stage musicals, although a very small part of my early school life where I was invariably a chorus member, were never part of my goal in life. Singing was first, and acting came second, although more accidentally than intentionally; TVB was an accident, a happy lucky one.

Through the years, my preferences for acting and music have changed, and now I find myself yearning for the satisfaction that can come from a well crafted stage musical, such as "They're Playing Our Song". In recent years, I've participated in three stage productions. I danced in 「上海之夜」 (Magic is the Moonlight) and sang in 「鄧麗君,但願人長久」 (Teresa Tang Forever), but except for Perfume 香水 (2005), I was always a rather large extra in the story. Perfume was my first role as a co-star, working with three other respected professionals, none of whom thought of themselves as better than any other. In fact, in this respect, I have again been fortunate. In none of the stage productions that I have worked with have there been any actors or actresses who thought they were above everyone else, including Cass 彭羚, a world class singer who because of the Teresa Tang musical became a personal friend of mine.

And now I get a starring role. It only took 20 years to get here.

The automatic presumption of most people who hear that I'm starring in a stage production is that I'll be making a good deal of money. Nothing could be further from the truth. None of the three primary participants in this production are going to make very much money, if any at all. It's a production of love.

"They're Playing Our Song" will be performed in the McAulay Studio theatre which seats less than 100 people (the front rows are just a few feet from the stage). There will be ten shows. Do the math and you'll quickly realise that the potential income from this show is very limited. Then remember that we also have to pay the creators of the play for the right to perform it. And there are props to buy, composers to pay, sound studios to rent, and other employees and technicians to pay.

I drive to rehearsals. If I were to take public transport to the rehearsal location, it would be one hour there and around an hour-and-a-half back. That's a lot of time to spend standing in a crowded compartment, and no fun at all after rehearsals have drained all of your energy. With petrol, parking and food costs, I'll be surprised if I come out of this adventure with any financial profit at all.

Then there's the time involved. For more than two months, we will have rehearsed practically every day, anything from three to seven hours a day with acting, dancing and singing. And predictably, we also work on the play in our own time, when we're not running companies, or writing master-degree mid-term papers and theses, or filming at TVB.

One outsider who has benefitted from my involvement in this production is a Cantonese-speaking Caucasian actor by the name of Brian who after following my advice, was accepted into TVB as a contract artist. A few weeks ago while I was at TVB filming, I bumped into an Administrative Assistant (commonly referred to as an A.A. in TVB lingo) who cheerfully and sincerely informed me that I had been assigned a very significant role in their new TVB series, perhaps one of the biggest roles of my TVB career. Unfortunately, the demanding inflexible schedule of the new series collided directly with the equally demanding schedule of "They're Playing Our Song" and I suddenly had to choose between a major TVB role with a nice income attached to it and a stage musical with possibly no income benefits at all. For me, it wasn't a choice (yes June, you were right. I'm an idealist, albeit a complicated one). "They're Playing Our Song" was my first priority. Since I now have the contractual right to say 'no' to any TVB series I choose, the role was reassigned to Brian who is now happily thinking about how he's going to get enough sleep while filming the busy series side by side with a very attractive actress.

So why do the play? (this is true also for Henry and Sompor) Because it's a golden opportunity to work together with other enthusiastic hard working people and produce something great. Because I get the opportunity with the director and costar's participation to develop the character line by line, step by step, day by day. Because I get to act in a manner and at a level not possible at TVB because of TVB's script and time constraints. Because I get to sing and dance on stage with expression and exuberance. Because I get to push myself well beyond my comfort zone. Because I get to prove to myself and others what I am capable of and have oodles of fun while doing so.

If we were making a lot of money from this production, we'd obviously work hard to produce a wonderful show. Is it therefore logical that because we're not making a lot of money, that we work less? No. On the contrary, we work even harder because what we stand to gain from this production become all the more important, and they are learning, experience, satisfaction, and the proof of what we are capable of.

If you miss this show, you will indeed have missed a very special production.

A couple of 'post' notes.

1. At the time I bumped into the A.A.,
"They're Playing Our Song" had already been planned for close to eight months,
we had already taken several lessons with our vocal coach for the play,
the venue had already been booked,
we had already had two solid weeks of rehearsals.

As such, if I had chosen to take the TVB role, it would have caused harm to everyone involved in the play, not something I would easily agree to.

2. Working on a play improves your acting skills. Some Hollywood actors go back to the stage at least once every two years to keep their acting skills honed. It's very difficult to improve your skills while working at TVB. The whole as-quick-as-you-can atmosphere doesn't foster it.

3. I'm getting interviews with various magazines (and perhaps even a Canada-based Cantonese radio station) about my involvement in this play. I never get interviewed about my TVB work.

There will be other TVB series. There will never be another "They're Playing Our Song". The benefits of doing the play are many and significant. They're just not obvious.

Chatty

Filed in General, Life

My father has the uncanny inclination to talk to strangers. One recent time when he visited me here in Hong Kong, we were up at the Häagen-Daaz shop at The Peak and while I was getting our ice cream, he walked over to a group of Caucasians and struck up a conversation with them. He does this all the time, and with his general knowledge of a wide range of subjects and a humble disposition, he can usually carry on a conversation for quite a long time. Some people politely listen while others are actively engaged by the conversation. It's difficult to think that this elderly gentleman with a non-threatening whitish beard, a soft round tummy and a wink in his eye could be anything other than sincere in his conversation so he rarely gets any negative responses to his invitations to chat.

My wife has commented that I sometimes display the same behaviour, suddenly walking up to complete strangers and striking up a conversation. I'm not sure if I generally actively walk up to people but I am aware that I'm not too shy to exchange a few sentences with people in for example a crowded elevator.

There may be a couple of reasons for this chatty behaviour. For one, I am generally treated as a 'familiar friend' by most of the population of Hong Kong, the result of having been seen on local TV off and on for nearly twenty years. Many of the young people have literally grown up watching me on TV. I know that any attempt on my part to talk to the local people will normally be received well.

Secondly, I grew up in a country town. This is probably more relevant than some people at first perceive. In small country towns, most people are friendly toward each other. Gympie, on the outskirts of which I grew up, today still only has a population of around twenty thousand people. The average building estate here in Hong Kong houses far more people than that!

I also remember quite vividly that when my wife and I lived in any of Hong Kong's standard high-rise buildings, we barely knew our neighbours. Now that we're living in one of Hong Kong's villages where the buildings are only three stories high, we suddenly know many more of our neighbours. Perhaps growing up in high-rise buildings unknowingly makes people a little more wary of each other. Or perhaps it's just that life in the city here is so fast paced and high pressured that people simply don't have time or energy to make the effort to talk to others around them. Or perhaps it's simply that you're far more likely to run into your neighbours when there are fewer people to run into, and familiarity builds with frequent meetings.

So it is that we come to an event that occurred tonight. After rehearsing "They’re Playing Our Song (2007)" this afternoon, I drove back to Tsimshatsui to join my wife and her family for dinner at a restaurant to celebrate her father's eightieth birthday. While sitting at the table, my wife and her sisters had their topics to talk about and the older people had their topics. Feeling a little tired and not really wanting to join the girls' conversation, I started looking around the restaurant. Since ceasing my wasteful TV-viewing habit on New Year, I've slept more, exercised more, and done more, and my mind has generally improved significantly. I think clearer and faster than I've done for a long time, and I don't tire as easily. So it is that I decided to peer around the restaurant and as an actor, study the people I could see to see what I might observe and learn.

An elderly woman sat with her friends. She had makeup on and obviously took care to look good, but someone had neglected to help her tidy her thinning hair. At the back of her head, it was lifting and bunched.

An elderly man was cheerfully having dinner with friends. Judging by his mannerisms, it was probably a business dinner. He spoke on good terms with the waiter and it was obvious that he was a regular customer here. Occasionally, he closed his eyes excessively causing them to scrunch up in wrinkly knots, probably an involuntary and unbeknown response that he had attained with age.

Yet another man was having dinner with his family; a wife and a daughter. The man leaned forward as he ate and chewed every bite deliberately and with effort. He appeared to be one of many people in Hong Kong working very hard for his family, and the toil of his labours was clearly visible in the way he ate his food. His daughter was bright and cheerful and there was an obvious bond between them as she squatted on the chair next to him leaning on the table in front of her and chatted to them both. His daughter was possibly the one thing that made his toil worthwhile.

Then, there was a Caucasian. Dressed in a striped shirt; I think it was a t-shirt; the man possibly in his early forties was cheerfully enjoying the food in front of him. I watched him for several minutes. He intrigued me. There was an honesty and a freedom about him. He didn't seem to be as complicated as many people are today and there was a friendly confidence in him. There was also something very odd in the way he moved and bobbed as he ate his food, a movement often seen in Caucasians eating Chinese food. Only later did I come to realise that the strange movement was probably a result of the chopsticks that he was using. Although he held them well and correctly (which many Asians today curiously do not), I suspect that he wasn't adapted to the way his wrist had to twist and turn as he brought the food to his mouth, hence the extra movement of his upper body and head to meet the chopsticks midway. When using a knife and fork, we twist our wrists, but only a little and only on the horizontal axis. Chopsticks require a completely different twist action and I suspect it takes people a while to get used to it.

While watching the man, who I incorrectly believed to be French, he suddenly looked around and saw me watching him. Now my observation of him was completely one of curiosity, of investigation, and because I had no bad intentions of any kind, there was no need for me to hide and I simply smiled back at him. For a second, he thought he recognised me. I shook my head to indicate that he didn't know me and we then both went back to our meals.

A short while later, I decided to take a chance. I found the man's character attractive and I decided to meet him, so I stood up and walked over to his table. Now people do this all the time in pubs and bars, but it doesn't happen very often in restaurants, especially when you know absolutely nothing about the other person.

The man stood up as I approached. We introduced ourselves and sat down. His companion at the table was a local Chinese lady who knew me as a 'familiar friend' and chatting was therefore relatively easier. He was indeed a nice guy, and similar to me in some ways; an Italian now living and working in Sydney, speaking with an international English accent. I'm an Australian, living in Hong Kong who very rarely speaks English but on the occasion that I do, I too speak with an international English accent. It was not a long conversation but it was pleasant. I returned to my table. Soon after, as he was leaving, the man and his companion were kind enough to walk over to my table and bid me farewell.

If I did indeed inherit this 'chatty' behaviour from my father, than I have no choice other than to thank him for it, because on occasion, we do get to meet and know the nicest people.

Perfection. The Lie of the Century.

Filed in Current Affairs, General, Hong Kong, LifeTags: , ,

The truth is that everyone wants to be happy. The reality is that apparently, most people are very confused about how to be happy.

For years, advertising agencies have been using images and movies of seemingly very beautiful and happy people to sell products, everything from beer to jewellery. The core of their message is that you'll be happy too if you consume or own whatever they're selling.

The reason that this advertising works is a deep-seeded psychological need for people to be part of a community, to be accepted, to be 'one of the gang'. Many organisations use this need to their advantage. Beer and cigarette commercials imply that if you're not drinking their beer or smoking their cigarettes, that you'll not be welcome by others in the community, or at least if you do drink their beer or smoke their cigarettes, you'll have 'better' friends and more of them. Many young people have come to believe these messages.

Unfortunately, materialism has become a major influence in today's world. We as a society are becoming more and more materialistic, and consequently more and more superficial. Over time, people will lose themselves. They will forget the true value of their lives and despair and hopelessness will ultimately ensue. Perhaps this is the reason that so many young people commit suicide in Hong Kong when relationships fail or when they get unsatisfactory results in their exams. I wish someone would tell them that there's more to a person than what they're wearing, smoking or drinking, and there's much more to a person than the prestige of the school they're attending.

The reason I'm writing this article; the trigger that made me sit down and begin typing, was an article in today's S.C.M.P. titled "Alarm bells ring over cosmetic surgery push". Corporations in Hong Kong are arranging cosmetic surgery tours to Korea where the surgery is cheaper and reportedly more advanced than that available in Hong Kong. Company's are paying big money to hire spokespeople and perform non-trivial surgery to become walking examples of their work. One such corporation by the name of Be a Lady recently paid one million Hong Kong dollars to a former Miss Hong Kong lady (吳文忻, Miss Hong Kong 1998) to have surgery done and become one of their spokespeople. Just the name of the corporation upsets me (colourful language would be more appropriate than 'upset' but generally speaking, I don't use colourful language). It implies that if you're not perfect, then you're not a lady. Unbelievably pathetic!

One of the procedures that Miss Hong Kong 1998 had done was the straightening of her nose. I feel sorry for her. The one million dollars will probably be useful to her, but I very much doubt that any of her operations are going to make her any happier, especially in the long term.

People seem to forget. What the surgeons and corporations are referring to as perfect features in people are in actual fact not attractive. Perfection is boring. Imperfections; the way her nose slants to one side, the way his left eye is slightly smaller than his right eye, or the unusual shape of her lips; make us special. Our wrinkles represent our past; the joy, the laughter, the pain, the hardships and the toil. They also represent our pride because we survived that pain, those hardships and that toil, so why hide them?

We are who we are. Our looks are a very important part of who we are, and that we all look different and perhaps curious is what makes us interesting. It's what makes us human. To infer and teach that people will be happier if they have 'perfect' features is perhaps one of the biggest lies of the century. I wish people would wake up.

The Devaluing of Human Life

It's not unusual in a newspaper's account of a young person committing suicide to read of elder family members or friends struggling to understand why today's young people undervalue their lives. I have my suspicions.

When our parents were growing up, advertising of the variety that implies that you'll be accepted and happy if you use a certain product were minimal. Newspapers were basically text with very few pictures. Television was in black and white and advertising agencies were still learning the psychological side of advertising. Admittedly, they too used pictures of smiling 'happy' people in their advertisements (and 'cool macho' men in the Marlboro ads) but it was harmless for the most part. Most people from that generation worked very hard to make a living and raise their families. Many did it without grudge or complaint. It was an accepted part of life and life itself was to be treasured.

Today, advertising, television programs and magazines now have almost every young person convinced that they'll never be happy if they're not beautiful and don't own all of the latest fashions, accessories and gizmos. The situation is probably further complicated because most parents today are working long hours at the office to pay the household bills and rarely have time to spend with their children, teaching them the value of the family unit, and hence the true way to find value in themselves.

Unfortunately, since we live in a very capitalist world and money controls what we see and read, I don't see a solution to this problem. Materialism will continue to increase. Our society will continue to commoditise and debase humanity. People will continue to buy into the lie of perfection and those people will inevitably arrive at a point in their lives where they'll feel alone, disillusioned, betrayed, degraded and devoid of self-worth. The future doesn't look good for humanity.

If you're considering cosmetic surgery in an attempt to perfect a certain feature, please stop and remember. You're perfect just the way you are. If anyone tries to say otherwise, it's certain that they don't respect you, they don't love you, and they're not worthy of your friendship.

Break a Leg Toe!

Filed in General, Health, Life, MemoirsTags: , , , ,

In show business, people wish each other 'break a leg' meaning that they wish success for the person they're talking to. Perhaps, I've unwittingly taken this good luck wish to a whole new level.

A week ago while walking with a few of our kids, I was walking rather lazily and stubbed one of my small toes on a tree root sticking out of the ground. It hurt but I didn't think much of it. After all, who among us has never stubbed their toe? I continued the walk and an hour or so later returned home.

I did what any experienced person would do with an injury. I iced my toes two or three times, ten minutes each time. This flushes the blood out of the injured area carrying debris with it and allows new healthy blood to enter in its place.

Before going to bed that night, I was aware of swelling in my foot and hoped that it would go away after a night's rest.

It didn't, at least, not completely. When I woke up, my toe and foot were still mildly swollen. Since my wife had to visit our family doctor to examine an arm injury, I decided to go with her.

xray of broken toe

The red circles on these two xrays indicate the position of the break just above the head of the fourth phalange (toe bone).

Our doctor looked at my toe and promptly reported that one of the phalanges (i.e., toe bones) was probably cracked. An xray would be needed to confirm it. We went upstairs to another medical clinic and took the xrays. When we returned and showed our doctor, he was noticeably stunned. The phalange was not cracked. It was broken!

I was lucky though. The bone broke and then reconnected itself. I won't need a surgery or a screw to connect the pieces. I'll just need rest and time.

So now I have to keep my walking to a bare minimum for the next four weeks and I have a new walking stick to help keep the weight off my right foot when I'm walking. And I'm not allowed to wear shoes. I can wear my Birkenstock sandals but not closed shoes. I'm not sure how I'm going to work around this when filming my current TVB series but we'll see. For a further four weeks, I'll be able to walk but will have to take care nonetheless.

But I believe that the broken toe has a purpose. My wife and I originally planned to go to Finland or Africa for the last two weeks of December, but that's not going to be possible now. I believe that something important is going to happen in those two weeks that would not be possible if we had left Hong Kong. We'll just have to wait and see.

In the future, I'll try not to be so literal when people bid me 'break a leg'. Oh. Wait a minute. I've already done that. I broke my right thema femur back in 1977 while trying to rescue one of our cats (I think it was Jacob) off the roof of our house.

1977. In the Gympie Memorial Hospital with a broken leg.

Just for you, I've scanned a newspaper photograph taken while I was in the Gympie Memorial Hospital recovering from a broken thema. Cute, don't you think?

For a 750x550 version, click here.

I was in hospital for 11 weeks and enjoyed most of my time there; watching horror movies on TV at night, playing with the nurses including one great male nurse, drawing, painting and more.

I developed a serious crush for the nurse on the right. She was wonderful. A few years after leaving the hospital, I accidentally came upon her again at her home while walking house to house for a Scouts Bob-a-Job fund raiser. That was a happy day and also the last time I saw her. I pray she is well.

In any case, for the time being, just call me Dr House. Believe it or not, Dr House and I have many similarities. We are both injured on the right side and walk with canes with very similar gaits. We both share the name Greg/Gregory. We've both studied medicine, and of course, we're both good looking ;-)

Bob-a-Job. A Scout fund raiser where scouts go from door to door asking to perform any chores available in return for any remuneration the other party was willing to pay. Historically 'bob' was slang for an English shilling. (here is another good read about Bob-a-Job.)

In my days as a scout, the chores I performed included cleaning shoes, mowing lawns, and painting houses, walls, etc.

In some countries, Bob-a-Job is now known as Job Week, and in some countries, it has been cancelled completely because of fears of abuse; people unfairly paying little for difficult chores. The world as we know it continues to degenerate.