L'esprit de l'escalier

L’esprit de l’escalier是個法語詞,字面意思是「樓梯機智」,指與人辯論或遭人言語冒犯時,一時語塞,事後才想起如何妙答,可惜已經太遲。

為甚麼叫「樓梯智慧」?L’esprit de l’escalier出自法國哲學家Denis Diderot。話說一次他在別人家作客,席間遭人議論,竟一時不能應對。後來他說自己「為對方言語之勢所懾,頭腦混亂,直至走到樓梯下(指離場)才清醒過來」。

英語裏沒有對應的詞語,一般譯作staircase wit。中文呢?筆者技窮,想極也想不出,請各位看倌幫忙。

日常生活中,各位是否經常遇到l’esprit de l’escalier的情形?

我覺得,面皮越厚的人,越少「樓梯機智」,因為厚面皮的人不易被氣勢嚇倒。有時候,明明道理在自己一方,卻被對方聲大夾惡一輪懾住,理直卻不能氣壯。

偏偏,我就是面皮極薄的人。

有一次排隊等巴士,車到站,突然有對五十幾歲的夫婦插隊衝上車,前面的人竟視若無睹。我大叫:「排隊呀!」。那男的斜眼看看我,面帶嘲笑,說:「我們是老人家嘛」。

老人家?沒錯,你比我活多了三十年,但也未到要人讓你先上車的年紀。而且人家主動讓你上車,與「奉旨」般插隊,是兩碼子事。更何況,以你衝上車的身手,一點也不像行動不便的長者。

就是這句「我們是老人家嘛」,我當時竟不知如何反駁。

這雖然是小事一宗,卻有兩點令我耿耿於懷。第一,讓無理之人強詞奪理,心有不甘;第二,此事反映出我反應太慢,容易受人欺負。

倘若事件重演,我會說:「對啊,你們真的年紀大了,臉皮越長越厚了」。

不過這都是「樓梯智慧」、事後諸葛,有鬼用。

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London 2010 – Day 8 – Greenwich

This is my last day in London. I went to GMT (Greenwich), before going back to GMT+8 (Hong Kong). Maybe this day was meant to be a good closure of the trip because, as you’ll see, it mirrored the first day in some ways.

Greenwich is reached by the driverless Dockland Light Rail:

Once there, I devoured a big breakfast at Peter de Wit’s Cafe:

The major sights are clearly signed in Greenwich so I quickly located the National Maritime Museum:

I enjoyed the special exhibition on toy boats (I was once obsessed with model ship) and the actual coat worn by Admiral Nelson in the Battle of Trafalgar. The hole made by the bullet that killed him was visible. It was quite a visual impact, amplified by the splatter of blood around it.

A figurehead

Behind the museum is Greenwich Park. At the top of the lush hill is the Royal Observatory, famous for being the site that marks the Greenwich Mean Time.

Here is the famous Greenwich line, formed by tourists waiting to take pictures of themselves straddling a metal strip on the ground.

The view from the observatory is beautiful. Canary Wharf (the office blocks further back) can be seen in the distance. For some reason, this place always reminds me of the financial crisis.

My next stop was the Greenwich Market:

The food section featured cuisines that are not found in Hong Kong, such as Moroccan (yes, this was my lunch, orange chicken with tomato puree on couscous, served with fallen leaves… I mean salad):

Nigerian:

And Ethiopian:

Each of these Italian deep-fried rice balls is a meal in itself:

Lovely cupcakes and cookies:

I then returned to Tate Modern, which I also visited on Day 1, for an exhibition on street photography and privacy. On the St. Paul side of the river, the street painter was still working. He seemed to have made good progress:

One last shot of the Millennium Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral:

Time to pick up my luggage at the hotel and head for the airport. This is Queensway Station, the tube station I used everyday during the trip. I can still remember, almost word for word, the announcement about one lift being taken out of service.

My hotel room:

Remember that when I first arrived, I saw a passenger trapped by the doors of Heathrow Connect? This happened again when I took the train to the airport. Why are the train doors so insensitive?

At the airport I was given the most thorough security search I had ever received. The guy scanned EACH of the metal buttons on my shirt and even searched the INSIDE of my belt.

It was sad that the trip had to end so quickly. As if it was some sort of solace, I was treated to this beautiful sunset before boarding:

London 2010 – Day 7 – Oxford

On the last full day of my trip, I took a one-hour train to the City of Dreaming Spires. This time I’ll keep writing to a minimum and let the pictures do the talking.

(There are lots of images in this post and it may take a while to load all of them.)

One thing that surprised me was the large Chinese community in the city. Within 10 minutes from the train station I saw no less than three Mandarin-speaking groups, as well as a karaoke bar with signs all written in Chinese.

First, I walked the area around the covered market:

One of the shops sold artistic cakes:

This jewelry store is called “Nothing”, and the shop next it, “Next to Nothing” (I wonder what “Rail Inside” means):

A quick lunch (steak & kidney pie) at a pie shop.

Then I went to Christ Church, one of the 13 colleges of the university. It took me quite a while to find the entrance, but getting lost in the back streets was a great way of taking in the city’s medieval charm:

This is the front gate of Christ Church. Beautiful flowers here:

Inside the college:

Outside the college’s cathedral, two ladies were handing out introductory leaflets. One of them asked:

“Would you like a leaflet as a reminder of what you’re taking pictures about?”

“Great! I was just going to ask if I can take pictures.” I said.

Inside the cathedral:

From the cathedral I found my way to the Hogwarts-esque dining hall:

Then I took a rest at a nearby cafe, and ordered some cream tea:

There was no time to visit another college so I just walked around the Radcliffe Camera area:

I climbed a medieval tower for an aerial view of the city’s famous spires:

Back in London, I returned to Trafalgar Square, this time for a brief visit to the National Gallery.

I could have just taken the tube back to the hotel, but I walked all the way to Piccadilly Circus, and hopped on a random bus.

Because I wanted to get a feel of the city as much as possible before leaving tomorrow.

Sorryman

In Hong Kong, when a section of pavement has to be dug up for maintenance works (such as repairing water/gas pipe), the site is usually surrounded by fences which bear the stock phrase “We apologize for any inconvenience caused”.

Sometimes this is also accompanied by the drawing of an apologetic man, and it seems that each government department/utilities company has its own version of “Sorryman”.

Town Gas:

Hong Kong Electric:

Water Supplies Department:

He also works part-time at the Highways Department:

回頭

今年六月獨自到英國旅行一週。前陣子,母親說:「那天送你上機呀,你進了禁區以後,也不回頭看看我們」,語氣略帶不滿。

我不以為然:「不就是去一個星期嘛。」

不過這番話,卻令我想起一些童年往事。

話說我自小便是個多慮、怕死之人。同齡的小朋友,大多數喜歡四處奔走,如脫韁野馬,很叫家長擔心。

我呢?聽父母說,即使他們放心讓我走開,我也會不時回頭,確保沒有離開視線範圍。不是指父母的視線範圍,而是不讓他們離開我的視線範圍。

從前是幾步一回頭,現在是一去不回頭,也難怪父母心裏有點不是味兒。

瓜田李下

這張照片攝於朗豪坊。

當時在扶手電梯上,看見天窗透進來的光形成特別效果,想也不想,馬上舉起相機拍下。

按下快門後,才心知不妙。

幸好,圖中兩名女子不是穿短裙。

否則,就算用一比九十九,也洗不清了。

一張嘴,不要臉

 

這幅畫畫甚麼?

畫的,就是那些吹牛皮大王的醜態。

為甚麼是吹牛皮大王?因為他們就像畫中人一樣,只得一張嘴,不要臉。

我認為人人都應該放這幅畫在枱頭,引以為戒。

李白飲清酒?

唐代文化對日本影響甚深,酒仙李白到了東瀛,也順理成章成了酒廠的名字:李白酒造。

此酒廠的產品命名也相當有趣。最高級的叫「月下獨酌」,取自李白同名作品;次一等的,叫「兩人對酌」。到底是因為獨酌的意境較高(花間一壺酒,獨酌無相親。舉杯邀明月,對影成三人),還是有好酒不應與他人共享,不詳。

千多年前的中國文化,日本人至今依然崇尚。反觀當今中國,自李小龍的功夫以後,還有沒有甚麼可以讓全世界趨之若鶩?