Colour blind

September 07, 2023 10:01
Photo: AFP

I often travel past a small noodle shop on Bonham Road which found itself the centre of much unwanted attention recently.

For many years, the shop has been a favourite haunt of construction workers on building sites in the vicinity, queues often forming up before the workers find a convenient place to sit and consume their container of tasty noodles.

The shop became so well-known for its food and its clientele that an unknown artist painted amusing pictures of cartoon figures on the bare cement face of the shop, portraying one male and one female construction worker, complete with their safety helmets, heads bent over their noodles,.

Alas, the artist inadvertently offended the sensitivities of someone who interpreted the construction workers’ yellow safety helmets as a challenge to the National Security Law.

Faced with this egregiously offensive characterisation, the government, with uncharacteristic but commendable restraint, merely drew the attention of the shop owners to the discomfiture that the cartoons were causing one or more members of the public.

A nod being as good as a wink, the pictures were promptly removed, leaving the bare cement wall.

This incident provides a salutary lesson to the citizenry to be acutely aware of the sensitivity of others to what might be perceived as matters of no significance whatsoever.

One man’s noodle may be another man’s niggle.

It behoves everyone to have most serious regard to the potential for the colour yellow giving inadvertent offence.

From now on, public displays of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, whether prints of the original painting or reproductions on ceramics, tea towels, watch faces and such like must, at all costs, be avoided.

Bearing in mind the furore over the appalling confusion created with regard to the National Anthem, DJ’s and supermarket music systems should avoid playing songs like “Tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree” or “The yellow rose of Texas” and most definitely ‘We all live in a yellow submarine.”

Singer-songwriter Donovan’s chart topping hit “Mellow Yellow” will certainly have to be banned as will the calypso “Yellow bird, up high in banana tree”.

(Fruiterers should only display unripe bananas and lemons)

Schools and Universities will have to comb through all their libraries to cull offensive references to this potentially dissident colour.

Regrettably, this will deprive students of the beauty of so much of English literature, such as the lines from Rossetti’s Fragment:
Her hair that lay along her back
Was yellow, like ripe corn.

Similarly, from Browning’s The Ring and the Book:
Do you see this square old yellow book, I toss
I’ the air, and catch again.

Nor should there be study of Edward Lear’s delightful nonsense verse:
We live on the Nile. The Nile we love.
By night we sleep on the cliffs above
By day we fish, and at eve we stand
On long bare islets of yellow sand.

Productions of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night will have to amend or delete Malvolio’s line about ‘coming to her in yellow stockings.’

What is quite extraordinary is that it has taken so long for one of Hong Kong’s rapier keen minds to recognise the incipient danger in the profligate use of this colour.

But now that dull intellects have been awakened to the potential for a viral colour pandemic, opportunities abound for the guardians of our sensibilities to go onto the offensive.

The first and most blatant of abuses must surely be the single, and even more so the double, yellow no-parking lines that deface the surfaces of our entire road system.

Removal of these eyesores would generate unbounded support from every motorist, deliveryman and taxi driver. It is hard to conceive of a single step that the government could take that would be quite so popular.

It would, incidentally, free up the members of the traffic constabulary to focus on crime.

Banning the yellow card from the football pitch would be hugely welcome to all the over-zealous players whose bad conduct is routinely sanctioned. Another cohort of the electorate to which such a move would appeal.

The government should also review the heavy rain and heatstroke warnings. These are described as ‘Amber’ but all the illustrations are of yellow.

All those eagle-eyed guardians of public morality will, doubtless, find many more illustrations of public displays of this feral flax that must be circumscribed.


In Hong Kong?

Don’t be ridiculous. Now, who has hidden my egg noodles?

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King's Counsel