Watching the torch
Rule One of Journalism for Big Events says that you often never get to see the actual event you're covering. This applies particularly for summits and presidential visits - where the media are kept so far back that you'd sometimes be better off staying at home and watching it all on tv. I've covered endless events where I've seen almost nothing and had to watch it all a day later (not even remotely satisfying).
So, this morning I hoped to break this rule - by actually seeing the Olympic torch as it headed through Hong Kong.
We started off not far from the Hong Kong Cultural Centre - where the relay was due to start. A handful of pro-democracy demonstrators stood on a corner and shouted "Freedom." Some pro-China campaigners decided to drown them out them by singing the Chinese national anthem. One man walked by and shouted out "Dogs" to the pro-democracy protestors.
An hour before the relay began, my colleagues and I packed ourselves into a crowd along Nathan Road - a few hundred metres from the start (crowd was so dense that it you took a deep breath someone was likely to take up the space once occupied by your stomach.) Almost everyone around us was dressed in red - they'd come to cheer on China. The police stood in front of us. One officer with the word "Negotiator" written on the back of his jacket walked by - not sure his skills were ever needed.
A little after 10.30am, the crowd began to cheer. We all had a look down the street - I could just about make out an athlete running with the torch. The crowd shouted "Go China" in Cantonese. The torch went by - a few metres in front of us. Nobody made a lunge for it. And that was it.
It was more fun than watching it on TV a day later.