Tuning in to an FA Cup match at the weekend on ESPN, I was subjected to the normal Star-network range of cringingly unfunny station promos and trailers. How I have come to curse those guys on the American version of Sportcenter who have a bit of chemistry and the wherewithal to deliver their lines in a way that is actually sometimes funny for persuading countries where it is considered the height of wit to scream inanities loudly and then laugh at them even more loudly to attempt to ape their repartee.
This time, 'though, I was rewarded by one of the broader grins I've managed since the excellent John Dykes was lured back to Blighty by promises of the kind of money he had only dreamed of when a sports hack for the South China Morning Post. (By the way, what is the point of Andrew Leci?)
This smile came totally unwittingly, as far as the station was concerned, and had to do with a generic celebration of football which it had cobbled together using footballers – well, in the main, footballers, as we shall see – from different countries.
The general idea was that players from different lands would laud the wonders of the world game in their own language, with Star providing the translation below. All went well for a while, as athletes from Africa, Europe and South America provided a number of variations on the basic fut-bol theme ("I love it", "It's my life/passion, etc."), with a calcio thrown in for good measure from Italy.
Suddenly a chubby Asian type popped up and proceeded to say something in Mandarin in a stentorian manner out of synch with what had come before. The subtitles revealed all: the beautiful game had of course been invented in the Motherland.
Enough of the lies-to-take already!, as the badinage on Sportscenter would quickly remind us.