有时候,尊严就像泡沫,随时可能破灭。去年来到中国后,我经历了几件很丢面子的事情。英国人给我这种倒霉不断的人起了个名字 —— “沃利”(Wally是一个常见的英文名字,有“废物,笨蛋”的意思)。



Sometimes dignity feels like bubble waiting to be burst.

We Brits like that sort of thing - we love to see pompous characters having their treasured dignity destroyed.

My dad wasn't pompous. He was a kind, polite man but, like many of his generation, he was quite formal and well-mannered. He wore a tie even when he was digging the garden. His dignity was important to him.

So when one of my mum's friends called to visit as he was watching TV, he knew it was his duty to stand up as a lady entered the room. Unfortunately, as he did so his trousers fell down around his ankles.

I can't remember how he reacted because I was temporarily blinded by tears of laughter - but it's a fair bet that he cringed at the thought of that incident for months, if not years, afterwards.

Since arriving in China last year I have had a couple of dignity-tarnishing incidents.

Imagining a Chinese online bank account to be something like its British equivalent, I arranged to set one up. But when I was paid a month later, I couldn't access the account on my laptop.

So I contacted the ubiquitous "Chinese-speaking friend" and she agreed to take me to the bank to sort things out.

"Bring your documents and computer," she said.
“带上你的证件和电脑。 ”她说。

After doing a spot of grocery shopping, I popped my brand-new laptop into my swish new backpack and headed off to the bank.

A small crowd gathered as my friend explained my predicament to bank officials and they asked to see my documents and computer. I unzipped my backpack, pulled out the laptop and found it was covered with a strange gooey mess that was dripping everywhere.

I realized then that I hadn't removed a bag of eggs from my bag before putting the laptop in. As a large omelette formed on the floor and people rushed about with mops, I blushed with embarrassment.

On another recent occasion, I got in the lift to my apartment with anattractive Australian lady. Feeling quite the urbane expatriate, I struck up a conversation with her during the elevator ride. We both got out and she headed for her apartment, which was opposite mine.

"Oh, you're our new neighbor," she said.

I tried to unlock my door. They key wouldn't fit. No surprise really. Mr. Smooth had got out on the wrong floor.

I wish I could forget one particularly horrible embarrassment.

My wife, son and I were on holiday in Bulgaria.

As we sat beside the hotel pool, life felt good. It was hot, sunny, I'd had a swim. As I reclined on my sun lounger, slightly tipsy, I was feeling quite pleased with myself. It was a lovely place to be. So very quiet, so tranquil.

Then, during that quiet moment, without any effort on my part, I broke wind. Not quietly - it was the loudest sound of its type I'd ever heard. That anyone had ever heard, judging by the peals of laughter that rang out as a chuckling sea of international faces looked in my direction.

I was suntanned but there was still room on my face for an extra layer of crimson as I tried to remain nonchalant in the aftermath of the horror that had just occurred.

My family still tease me about it a decade or so later: "Even the Germans were laughing," they say.

The Brits have a name for mishap-prone people like me. They are 'wallies'.
英国人给我这种倒霉不断的人起了个名字 —— “沃利”(Wally是一个常见的英语名字,有“废物,笨蛋”的意思)。

And now I'm the Great Wally of China.