Meet the club’s own veterinarian. When there’s something strange in the neighbourhood, who you gonna call? MARTIN AU!
Full Name: Martin Au
Position: Middle, Outside, Opposite
Number of Years Playing: 4
Been with the Spikers since: 2015
So I hear you grew up in Kowloon's Walled City. What was that like and how did you end up in London?
My most cherished memories of Hong Kong growing up were all of the family gatherings during Chinese new year. It's very similar to Christmas the the UK, when the entire family would get together to celebrate new year. The children would get dressed in the best and newest clothes, fed plenty of delicious food, and get given plenty of pocket money! So it was a few years ago. When I was 11, my sister and I were sent to school in the UK in pursuit of a better education. Our parents also wanted our family to have a 'back up' life in case of any instability in Hong Kong after the handover. And after school and university, I got a job in London, and voila!
For us non-Cantonese speakers, how do we pronounce your surname correctly? Is it like the "Ou" in "Ouch" or like the "Oh" in "Oh no you did not?"
It's pronounced 'ou' as in someone has just caused you a sharp, stabbing pain. I'm sure a lot of people in the club are familiar with this sensation. ;-)
Tell us about your day job of healing animals... Do you just specialise in certain animals like dogs or domesticated bats or do you heal all types of critters?
The hospital I work at is based in the outskirts of London, so we mainly deal with dogs, cats, rabbits, and if we are unlucky, a sickly budgie or a nippy hamster. My day usually starts with 2 hours of consults in the morning. Whatever comes through the door can range from a simple 'manicure' to something that needs emergency surgery. After that we spend time treating the inpatients and doing routine surgeries.
What was the weirdest animal you've had in your clinic? Weird as in, it's not your usual UK pet.
We have had a 7ft python (unfortunately not the one-eyed variety) with pneumonia in hospital. He was heavy and dangerous, we needed 3 people present in the room to medicate him.
Holy s***! Have you ever wanted to kidnap one of your "patients" and take it home?
Yes of course! Especially if they are soft and cuddly.
BTW, I'm loving these photos of you from work. Did you have a proper photoshoot or is this stock photography?
My boss got a professional photographer in, and he followed all of us around for the day.
If you were not a homosapien, what animal would you be and why?
Definitely a sea turtle. They look so peaceful and at ease with life swimming in the ocean on Blue Planet. But sticking my head out of the water to take a breath every so often would annoy me eventually.
Ever since the handover from the UK to China in 1997—symbolically marking the end of the British Empire—Hong Kong has experienced quite a bit of upheaval. From both an economic and cultural perspective, what do you think has changed the most? Where do you think things go from here?
Having moved away before the handover, I can only give you a limited perspective of what life really is like in HK. After 1997, the border has opened up, there are more mainland Chinese tourists and investors. Noticeably, the share prices in HK have sky rocketed and the majority of the people have benefited from this. However the downside is that house prices have also increased making them unaffordable for most people. Politically, new legislations have been introduced which undermined HK's freedom - to elect our government, make our own laws, and freedom of speech. You win some, you lose some.
On a lighter note, let's get back to volleyball... What do you enjoy most about playing volleyball? What do you enjoy most about the club?
For me, the new friends that I've made through volleyball. You get meet a bunch of guys in the club with similar interests and also been through similar life experiences as you.
What's so fun (and challenging) about playing Middle?
Being a middle is so much more physically challenging than I thought - you have to move fast and jump high. So much more than just waving your arms above the net!
In your 4 years in the club, share with us your top 3 memories or highlights of being a Spiker? They can be from training, from social events or in any other context really... Number 1 was singing “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” at karaoke onstage in Warsaw with me, right?
Funny you say that because none of my fave memories involve playing volleyball and they are all about the parties! One of the most memorable was after the live party 2 years ago, whilst being carried to our taxis, Kemal and I still managed to beg for a piece of fried chicken from a stranger. Arguably, seeing you (a foodie/chef/blogger) stuff your face with numerous McNuggets in Warsaw was also memorable.
Lol, hey it was 4 AM and I wanted to continue the fun. Moving on… between fixing animals, volleyball, and tormenting your coach Xu Da, what else do you do in your free time?
I love travelling, I've set myself a goal of visiting 3 new cities a year. In London, I would love to start something creative. I'm looking at starting an intensive 2 week course in men's pattern cutting.
Oh fancy, watch out Vera Wang! Ok moving on… what have you learned from playing in an organised sports team? What can you apply from your volleyball life to your non-volleyball life?
There are surprisingly a lot. Don't dwell on your (or anyone else's) mistakes, move on and try not to make them again. Take responsibility of your own action, it's not a blame game! No one can give you stress, it's really how you handle it in any situation. To name a few.
Good points, I should probably heed your sage advice… Ok, anything else we should know about you that we don't already know?
We have 2 guinea pigs named after 2 divas from the Destiny's Child - Beyonce and Kelly. Sadly Michelle didn't make the cut.