Hemlock's Diary

The ravings of Hong Kong's most obnoxious expat
28 September-4 October 2003
Mon, 29 Sept
                          S-Meg Holdings Ltd


To: Asst Deputy Snr Mgr, General Affairs Dept
From: Company Gwailo, Chairman’s Private Office
Re: The Old Woman Who Cleans Telephones

Please be reminded that I maintain high standards of hygiene and do not require my telephone to be cleaned every single day.  Please also be advised that I would in any case be grateful if the unpleasant-looking crone who cleans telephones would enter my office only when I am not there.  If this is not possible, I would be grateful if she would avert her eyes from me when in my presence, as I strongly suspect she is mentally undressing me, and I find this most objectionable.  Thank you for your attention.
Tue, 30 Sept
Staring out of the window at the top of S-Meg Tower, humming along to Vaughan Williams’ fifth symphony, I wonder what would possess some sick and demented person to
feed our Basic Law through the appalling pornolizer.  Suddenly, a smug-looking number-one son peers round the door.  “I met Tchen Swoh Uh in Beijing,” he announces proudly.  I put on my what-the-hell-are-you-talking-about? expression.  “Deputy Director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office,” explains the supercilious brat.  I nod slowly.  “I think you mean Chen Zuo'er.  Repeat after me... Chun.” “Chun”.   “Dzwaw.”  “Dzwaw.”  “Rrr.”  He blinks and grins. “Rrr.”  He wants a favour.  The Big Boss is in conference with two Executive Council members.  Could I look after the civil servant flunky accompanying them?  “My father asked me to do it,” says the dim-witted scion, “but I’ve got an early lunch.”   Thus I find myself having tea and small talk with Administrative Officer and bag-carrier Hilton Au-Yeung.  He knows the buxom Winky – they were both attached to the Anti-Pedestrian Unit of the Transport Department a few years ago.  “So how’s morale in the Civil Service these days,” I ask, putting on my I-really-care-deeply face. He unloads a catalogue of woes.  Article 23, pets in public housing, harbour reclamation, and now maybe megalomaniac plans for a huge prison – over and again, sweeping official plans are being thwarted by public opposition.  “Before July 1st, we just put our heads down and went ahead,” he laments.  “Now, it’s just… humiliating.”  The plight of our dedicated public servants leaves me distraught.  Do these ungrateful brutes marching in the streets demanding better government ever stop to think of the anguish and misery they cause?
Wed, 1 Oct
That’s enough tourists, thank you.  Residents of Beijing’s old
hutongs hate it when camera-wielding barbarians peer into their living rooms to get a glimpse of traditional culture and atmosphere.  And the same goes for the inhabitants of Perpetual Opulence Mansions, where slightly built but vicious and deadly Nepalese security guards keep groups of curious Mainland sightseers at bay.  We must seem bizarre to them.  By their standards, we must be wealthy.  Yet many of us wear simple, even common clothing on this public holiday – collarless t-shirts, shorts and sandals – in stark contrast to our northern visitors’ National Day best.  The ethnic mix of the Mid-Levels clearly interests them. Do Chinese and gwailos share homes?  Kitchens?  Beds?  And where do they keep the chickens?  I trust that our guests notice the lack of flags hanging patriotically from apartment windows here, and indeed everywhere, in Hong Kong.  Wild American friend Odell and I indulge in our new hobby for an hour in the afternoon.  We go to Golden Bauhinia Square on the Wanchai waterfront and lean against the railings, carefully watching the Mainland tourists posing in front of Hong Kong’s most tasteful public monument.  From time to time, Odell surreptitiously photographs them, while I take notes and speak into my wristwatch.  The alarmed looks on their faces as they climb into their buses are a joy to behold.
The delightful "Forever Blooming Bauhinia" was a gift from the people of China to mark the widespread joy of the nation on the return of the territory to the motherland after 156 years under the foreign yolk.
Thurs, 2 Oct
Ms Fang the hunter-killer secretary bursts into a meeting to tell the Big Boss that Financial Secretary Henry Tang’s office has phoned.  “It’s urgent.  They want you to participate in tomorrow’s economic summit with academics, politicians and labour representatives.”  The Big Boss looks irritated.  “Why didn’t they invite me earlier?  Someone’s dropped out, so they think I’m available just like that?  Forget it.”  As the heartless but efficient personal assistant turns to leave, the great man has a suggestion.  “What about Hemlock?  You could go as my representative.”  I wave Ms Fang on her way.  “No, no,” I tell him. “They want public figures.  You’re a prominent member of the business community.  I’m nothing.”  The day
Apple Daily carries blurred photographs of me cavorting with my obese Mainland mistress in a Beijing nightspot is the day I’ll be qualified to help solve Hong Kong’s economic problems. Economic problems that mysteriously do not seem to have stopped the stock market nudging 11,500 this morning.  Economic problems that the Government must exaggerate, or even invent from scratch, if necessary, to occupy 7 million tiny minds.  What horrors might we think about otherwise?

Fri, 3 Oct
Does the
South China Morning Post deserve a compliment?  It’s never happened before, but I feel a pat on the back could be in order after visiting their centenary photo exhibition at Pacific Place and admiring the historic pictures, many of which I have never seen before.  Lost times re-found.  Riot police lurking menacingly in fetid shadows.  A barrage of tear gas grenades raining down into a Vietnamese refugee camp.  A Mainland desperado firing an AK-47 outside a Swire House jewellers.  A baby’s body being uncovered from the mud of a landslide.  And then, things got bad… Tung Chee-hwa watching the televised results of his “election” in late 1996, open-mouthed in affected joy and surprise.  Overcome by nostalgia, I retreat to the Great supermarket downstairs to stock up on olives stuffed with anchovy, chambertin cheese and other delicacies we lived happily without during those poorer, simpler times captured by the SCMP’s photographers.  Now we can look forward to another 100 years of criticising the worthless rag.