Dom Joly: Rain may stop the watersports, but we soldier on

Share
Related Topics

It was a very peculiar evening. I found myself on the roof terrace of a Chinese fish and chip shop in Old Beijing. I was there to do my regular bit for 5 Live, on the 'Drive' programme with Peter Allen. I'm there to supposedly add insightful and witty banter about the Olympic day – I do my best.... The place was in the most picturesque part of Beijing, among the old hutongs – narrow labyrinths of glorious hustle and bustle that are fast being swept away by the hungry architectural wave that is engulfing 'new' Beijing.

It was a balmy evening, and we were joined by Katharine Merry – the former British 400-metre Olympian. Things started quite smoothly, except that the floor was wet and the portable broadcast equipment was giving everybody round the table electric shocks. This tended to keep you on your toes, but we managed to broadcast through the period with only the odd, mild "ooh" and "ahh" audible. I cracked a bad couple of jokes about being on 'Fried Live', and guessing the headline might be "BBC radio team fried to death in Beijing chip shop".

Then we were joined by a couple of lads from, well, that was the problem. They were over here on some scheme to help them learn to play ping-pong. Peter Allen asked the first guy where he was from.

"London..." replied the clearly nervous youth. "What part?" Peter coaxed. "England..." he stammered. "No, I mean, where in London?" Peter continued, determinedly. "Europe," replied the oddly terrified boy.

He eventually confessed to being from Northolt, no crime in itself. He then disappeared downstairs, and we could hear his mates teasing him in the bar.

We moved on to the first day of track and field. Katharine Merry was asked for her opinions, and she chattered on very happily for a while. Suddenly, however, she stood up and stumbled over to the other side of our roof and threw up extraordinarily violently. The broadcast continued while we tried to help as best we could. A very pale Katharine blamed it all on a dodgy pizza she'd had back at the Olympic Green.

She claimed to have recovered, and sat down with us and insisted on answering more questions about the upcoming events. Suddenly she was off again – retching violently for a good minute or so while we filled, desperately. Enough was enough – she'd been a real trouper, but it was time for her to head back to her hotel and get some rest.

The broadcast continued, indifferent to our increasingly weird evening, and we listened to tales of lorries shedding their loads on the M40, and jams on the A61. It all seemed a very long way from our little rooftop.

As the night wore on we traded stories about badminton players and synchronised swimming with news from Georgia and Antigua. It began to rain, and we huddled under two small umbrellas that attempted to protect our equipment. All I could think about was the electric shocks. I checked my shoes and was fairly convinced that they were rubber, but I couldn't be certain. I started to lift my feet off the ground – all while nattering on air.

When it was all over we had a couple of beers and waited for the BBC car to come and pick us up. Outside, in the narrow hutongs, seven police cars rushed past, lights flashing. Our driver told us that there was a curious rumour going round that somebody had poured poison into the hutongs; it all sounded very sinister. I couldn't help wondering whether it might have been more of that deadly Olympic Green pizza? That stuff is a killer.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Political satire is funny, but it also causes cynicism and apathy

Yasmin Alibhai Brown
It is much easier to correct errors on the web than in print  

There would be no need for corrections if we didn’t make mistakes in the first place

Will Gore
As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links