悼Mr. Chun

人生進入了一個年紀,就需要面對身邊人生老病死的問題。早些年有一些意外,年紀相若的朋友過世,心情當然比較沉重。人大了,事情重覆了,感覺便好像沒有太過強烈。

不過再多的事情,人始終不能變成完全地麻木。Mr. Chun只教了我一年物理課,但聽到他過身的消息,舊事還便湧上心頭。

很慚愧,到中三的時候,他才是我第一個完完全全地用英文教書的老師。一開始時,上課怕得要命,不僅要追上課堂進度、也要追上他的英文,唯恐落後於人。我還記得他喜歡用直尺在黑板上劃上筆直的線條,跟物理學上的一絲不苟有點玄妙的呼應。加上他身高六呎,又一副嚴肅的模樣,我相信當年害怕他的物理課的,不止我一個。

最意想不到的,大半個學年過去了,我跟很多同學都一直以為Mr. Chun不懂說中文。後來在陸運會聽到一把熟悉的聲音作旁述,才發現他一直在我們面前裝作聽不懂中文。課室內如是,走廊上也如是。過幾年回想起來,才明白那是誠心為學生們打算的作育手法。不過我們倒沒有因為英文差而被他駡過。他看的,是背後的推理、思維。用流利的英文答不到簡單的物理問題,他當然會責駡;用粗疏的英文答對了問題,則仍會得到肯定和鼓勵。我知道了以後,膽子好像大了一點(還是很小),物理課也變得輕鬆了,可以更專注於內容上。

後來中六拜讀了《A Brief History of Time》、大學畢業帶了《The Elegant Universe》去歐洲旅行,直到上兩個月看完了《The Martian》,才發現轉眼已過了十多年。相對今天上班、喝醉、做夢都說英文的我,很難回想那時的光境是怎樣的。在澳洲遇過的歐洲人,都說我的英文好;高中時的英文老師,在舊同學的婚宴上也說我的英文很好。但每次有人這樣說,我也難免面紅耳赤——當年全班英文最爛的可是我啊。

事隔近二十年,英文不算得上是脫胎換骨,物理學上也沒有甚麼貢獻。但第一個令我不再害怕英文的人、第一個令我喜歡物理的人,是Mr. Chun。

願主懷安息。

About Swing Dancing

It was Hong Kong Swings’s 10th year anniversary last week, and it also marked the time where I have been swing dancing for almost 8 years. It is a long time for any kind of hobbit or interest or sport, and I feel like I should write something about it.

Only few took it seriously when they first heard of swing dancing. Some due to the gratuitous euphemism of the word “swing”, some due to the general impression of any form of partner dancing as boring, uptight, and somewhat old-fashion ballroom dancing. For most, they would be really confused or clueless, as it is not the kind of dance you’d hear every now and then like salsa or tango.

Well, in all fairness, that was probably what I thought as well.

It was December 2008 when my colleague, Hardik, has his farewell party. He picked Grappa’s Cellar in Jardine House for the dinner with the team. It was a busy night. Like, 120%-full-house busy. What we didn’t know was, Grappa’s was (and still is) the place to host the swing dance social night. And since it’s December, it happened to be Hong Kong Swings’s Christmas party night too. My colleague was actually a pretty good swing dancer, and he went straight to the dance floor after the first course.

Now for a table of 12 people, none of us knew what was going on. We tried hard to understand, but it seemed so much couples were dancing randomly on their own. Mind you, for those who have been to a regular Wednesday night, it was such a busy night they didn’t have any free beginner lesson. So there was absolutely nowhere to start. And I started.

I remember it was Michelle, Christine and Mike who encouraged me to dance. I don’t think Michelle even remember that, but I do. It was the first time in my life to be so committed to do something so embarrassing. But the ultimate reason was even simpler than that. I wanted so much to dance with this particular girl. And since I was in an age that testosterone controlled all lesser (or better, retrospectively) decisions in my life, I did ask her to dance and we danced. It was simultaneously the best and the worst 3 minutes of the night, but it was worth it. It was how it all started.

But it was ever since more than that. Swing dance fitted me. I didn’t like choreographed dances. I often felt ballroom dances were too rigid. Salsa and tango came with a lot of sex appeal, and it was not something I was looking for. And I am probably saying it with huge amount of bias.

Swing dance, on the other hand, check all the boxes. It is casual. It is fast-paced. It is fun. It has a lot of science (physics) in it. And most importantly, swing dance has a fair bit of cheekiness. Or smugness. Or try to mix something new or make a synchronized move, with a partner you have just met 30 seconds ago. On the dance floor you don’t see a sad swing dancer. Everyone is happy in a very particular way. Some people may treat swing dance very seriously of course, and some people may on the other hand over-do the cheekiness, always try to be under the spotlight of the floor and such. But if you have the right amount of playfulness, it always brings you and your dancing partner smiles.

I am very thankful that I have been part of this community in Hong Kong. I’ve seen people complaining about how boring Hong Kong is, while it really isn’t. I am sure a lot of salsa, tango, hip-hop, dancers do share the same feeling, being in a small but really close community enjoying the things that they all love. Or the same as cross-fit groups, book clubs, ice-skiing groups, dragon boat teams, whiskey tasting groups, dodgeball teams and the like. The width of Hong Kong never stopped at cinemas and shopping malls.

Keep exploring. Keep dancing.

男拔.喇沙.聖Jo仔……

當年前一句死敵、後一句世仇,其實只是茶杯裡的風波,私底下不同中學畢業的朋友眾多,頂多間中把往事拿來說笑。

可是在本港中小學同一環境文化裡生活的學生,少則三五七年、多則十二三年,成長影響性格,是不可置疑的事實。區區甘願冒上一竹篙打一船人、把個人行為概括於群體行為當中等的風險,試試略述這三間中學畢業生的特點。你可能會說:「我認識的某某於某某中學畢業,卻非如你所述。」我這裡的回應是,這絕對粗疏而(過份)簡化的個人見解、聊以自娛,並非科學論證分析。認同的人可能會會心微笑;不認同的話,跳讀下一篇便算。

男拔仔大多是理想社會完美主義者。拿第一名是贏、拿第二名便是輸。不是說他們對勝負看得重,而是從小到大,他們大概已把「獲得第一」當成理所當然的第二本能。不認識他們,很可能覺得他們很「串」,但於他們來說,這可能只是對人生的最低要求。像《音樂人生》裡的黃家正,無意冒犯別人、卻把心中那條線訂得很高很遠的,在現實中我也認識好幾個。堅持搞創作搞音樂、學德文法文,或者心裡還有一團火,想去改進社會的朋友,似乎大都從男拔畢業。或者這種嚴己嚴人的人生觀,本身已是很「串」的一個態度。不過他們既不理別人的眼光,亦不在乎現實與理想的距離,仍然全力去做想做的事情、達到自己的目標。也許這樣,才可以串得起。

相對於男拔這種「離地」的處世態度,喇沙仔便是貼地的一夥人。畢業後出來工作,遇到最多的便是喇沙仔。不是說我認識的每位喇沙仔都「周身刀、張張利」,但一理通百理明,各行各業都有喇沙仔出沒,跟貼緊世界脈搏的處世態度或多或少有些關係。再加上自小便挾著「喇沙」的名頭,故此喇吵的校友往哪裡去,都總是能發熱發亮、廣受歡迎,正牌「風頭躉」是也。那是經過多年中小學長時間薰陶而成,是自然而發的魅力,別人學不來。黃霑的情才橫溢,毫無半點鑿斧痕跡,一般的十九二十才子不能比擬。

至於聖Jo仔,除了外表以外(嘿),算得上是「世界仔」的典範。這種圓滑,跟喇沙的貼地又有點不同。你需要聖 Jo仔去離地、他們便跟你離地談紅酒;你需要聖Jo仔去貼地、他們又可以跟你談《100毛》。見人講人話、見鬼講鬼話,正是對「世界仔」的最佳演繹。如果說,男拔仔的言行很「串」的話,聖Jo仔則是「曲到圓」,有時候在你眼前裝神弄鬼,你也可能不知道。先不要跟我說荷蘭叻,最令我敬佩的,乃是夏佳理。胡仙案於立法會離座抗議,回歸後恐怕是唯一一個曾獲得市民掌聲的親政府議員。此役卻沒有得失政府,離開自由黨後反而成為香港特別行政區行政會議召集人;當香港賽馬會董事局主席時,引入足球比賽投注、又把烏煙瘴氣的投注站全數翻新;當香港交易及結算所有限公司董事會主席時,又推動國企來港上市,創下當時H股指數新高。(及後的環球股災,則屬非戰之罪。)至今低調退休,仍留下一個好名聲。很多朋友遵照這條路走下去,不少已經成為了其他人心目中的「人生贏家」,集齊屋仔車仔老婆仔,是無驚無險的幸福。

過了這麼多年,不知道現在的男拔仔、喇沙仔跟聖Jo仔又如何如何了。

不過這種近乎標籤化的分析,只算是半個引子,從陳可辛導演身上偷來用一下。

早年的《中國合伙人》,拍下三個好友畢業後為了改變命運,創辦英語培訓學校的改編故事。電影可以當個小故事般觀賞,但也可以當是二十世紀八十年代開始,「土鱉」、「海歸」和「憤青」這三類人,在開放改革下這個大舞台上的寫照。

至於在今時今日的香港,「講理想」、「出風頭」、「搵真銀」,又是否三種不同類型的香港人的寫照呢?

Courtesy of the SJC Camera Club. Source: https://www.facebook.com/SJCAPF/photos/a.10153018481401152.1073741829.136963491151/10153028556166152/?type=3&theater

少閑記——學界游泳及其他

話說每年的cheering leader,都是由Head Prefect出任的。當年的Head Prefect是個溫文雅士,帶cheering team的任務就由區區分擔。而cheering team每年最重要的一日,又要數學界游泳比賽。屈指一算,今年剛好距我們千禧年那一屆滿十五年。

所謂的cheering team,不是那種拿著綵球耍雜技的餘興節目。Cheering 有如兩軍對壘鳴金擊鼓、振奮人心。特別是C Grade的小伙子,比賽陣前怯場時有發生。聽到有幾百人為自己打氣,絕對有助發揮。其他種種有關打氣對心理質素的影響,網上可以找到相關研究,不贅。

今年度有傳是最有機會打破男拔壟斷學界游泳比賽的一年。說實話,這種說法差不多每年都會聽得到。今年神推鬼㧬之下,又回到九龍公園。

賽事尾聲最精彩的兩項,其一是女子A Grade四乘五十米混合泳接力。協恩以零點四秒力壓女拔,除了「兩拔」以外,全場掌聲雷動。也許敵人的敵人就是朋友,又或者加上支持underdog的心理,代表不同團體卻又如此齊心的吶喊,在其他場合我可從未見過。女拔是敏感話題,有機會再寫。

另一項是男子B Grade四乘五十米自由泳接力。三大男校在零點八秒內先後觸池。贏了當然高興,但身邊還在中學唸書的小伙子卻開始哭起來。原來總分已經追不到男拔,又要一次飲恨。我們不會奢望別的學校餘下的比賽被DQ或者其他奇蹟出現。就算出現了,也勝之不武。

這裡想說的是:小朋友,記著你流過的眼淚吧。贏不了,盡過力,也可以抬起頭走出去。記得失敗的時候的滋味,也是成長的一種。每件事情都排第一,到真正嚐到失敗時,那種從高處跌下的感覺才致命。想想就算女拔廿八連勝也好,A Grade 接力贏得銀牌的四個同學,也許是整所女拔當日最不甘心的四位吧。

男拔的人做事講原則、做人講理想,也許就是贏得太多,世界太理想太完美。若瑟夫粗俗一點說就是「世界仔」,卻也只因為同一件事情裡面,有不同的體會。終有一天贏下了那個總冠軍,那時候就會更加珍惜那種感覺。

Featured Image: Courtesy of the SJC Camera Club. Source.