And Finally

Putting his liver on the line

A Guangzhou businesswoman wants some unusual protection

"Right, that's enough toasting for you Zhou. Now, put him in the front seat."

It is 17 years since Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston first starred in The Bodyguard. The film did not thrill the critics but it was still a commercial success. Its signature song – Houston’s cover version of I Will Always Love You – has become the curse of karoake bars the world over.

Secret service agent Costner is hired to protect Houston, the headstrong singer. The couple get romantically involved. Costner struggles with how best to protect his client while at the same time falling in love with her.

News from the Guangzhou Daily that a local businesswoman is also looking for a bodyguard raises some potential contradictions of its own.

Miss Ma (the employer) is “very talkative and very pretty”, according to the Daily. She is also rumoured to be worth Rmb10 million ($1.46 million) and is already a minor celebrity in the local media, after a run in with a BMW dealership ended when she employed a water buffalo to drag her vehicle through the city streets.

But now Ma is advertising for a bodyguard with a military background. She is willing to pay just Rmb5,000 a month for the right man. Alongside an expertise in martial arts he is expected to provide chauffeuring services and decent home cooking.

There is one final question for the interview process. Bodyguards often talk of a readiness to take a bullet for their clients but Miss Ma’s protector is more likely to be asked to take a brandy for his.

Apparently she is tiring of the rounds of ganbei (literally ‘empty glass’) toasting endured at business banquets and wants her bodyguard to stand in for her. The downing of alcohol “…brings a lot of inconvenience to a lady, that’s why I want to employ a guy to drink for me,” she admits.

Ma acknowledges that to require drinking and driving in the same job is somewhat unusual. But if she does end up insisting on multi-tasking in the workplace, her new employee may find himself with a dilemma as difficult to resolve as his Hollywood movie equivalent.

For Kevin Costner’s character, the choice was between love and professional duty.

For Miss Ma’s bodyguard it might be a more practical challenge; a case of staying sober enough at dinner to drive home safely afterwards.


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