Hemlock's Diary
The ravings of Hong Kong’s most obnoxious expat

31 March-6 April 2002
Sun, 31 March

Easter Sunday, and Olivers Deli is full of raucous, squeaky expat children having their faces painted by a paedophile dressed as a rabbit.  I am approached by a 30-something blonde woman with fat thighs who starts rummaging, totally uninvited, among the haloumi cheese, duck pate and assorted condiments in my basket.  “No, no, Octavia, you can’t hide it there,” she says in a British accent, retrieving a chocolate egg and giving it to what I take to be one of those Chinese toddlers expat housewives buy from Mainland orphanages. Pity I hadn’t seen the egg, as I could have introduced Octavia to the delights of chocolate laced with Tabasco – an authentic Aztec recipe.  Perhaps.

Mon, 1 April

Queen Mother Returns to Life! The headline on today's Morning Post. Or, at least, it would have been if the humorless and unadventurous editor had listened to the extremely clever suggestion I emailed to him on Saturday, when the old bird passed away.  

Tue, 2 April

The Big Boss brings number-one son to the morning meeting. One day, S-Meg Holdings will be his.  Indeed, the grinning supercilious little runt will soon be joining the company as one of just three assistant chief executives, the other two being well over twice his 23 years.  Big Boss teaches his offspring the finer points of management by asking a petrified department head what his sales forecast is for the coming financial year.  “Well, sir, after two weeks’ research, we expect to achieve an 8 percent increase in sales.”  Big Boss glowers.  “Not good enough!” Slams table. “Sixteen percent!” The department head nods furiously in agreement and sits down with a nasty looking damp patch on his trousers.  What a stupid man – he spends two weeks number-crunching, when all he had to do was ask. 

Later in the morning, number-one son awkwardly shuffles into my office and sits down, head jerking slightly, goofy grin on face. Same Armani wrapper as one of Li Ka-shing’s offspring, but different contents. Some social or even motor skills would help.  “Ah, Hemlock.  Ha ha.  Ahmmm..  Just a … just something for you.  Thank you for all your help.”  He puts an envelope on the desk, blinks at me, grinning, and departs.  No need to open it.  I know what’s in it - a cheque with a one followed by six zeros on it. Only two people in the world know who wrote number-one son’s Master’s dissertation.  And for another year, that will remain the case.

Wed, 3 Apr

Dinner at Fukuki with Lincoln, May and one “Deseree”, yet another of their numerous “single girls in search of a better catch than the one her best friend married last year”.  Barbecued eel, teppanaki, fatty tuna.  Very nice.  Later on, as usual, I complete an assessment form – partly as an aide-memoire, and partly to help Lincoln and May implement some quality control when trying to fix me up with these girls. 
Mobile phone use during meal:    Tolerable – is that normal, or did you warn her?
Teeth:   Good
Hello Kitty:   None visible
Bust:   OK
Legs: Matchsticks - yuck
Does/Doesn’t:   Probably does – could you guys make sure beforehand in future, pls?

Remarks: OK for a 1-nighter if drunk and desperate though would be afraid of breaking those legs
Have lost her phone number already.

Thurs, 4 April

I continue to believe that one day I will wake up and find that Hong Kong is still run by the British, and the last five years had just been a bad dream.  But today is not that day.  I wake up to these three stories on the radio:
1. Hardly any companies want to use Cyberport, CH Tung’s bizarre combination of central planning, cronyism and plain mental imbecility; as if a 31 year old son of a billionaire could turn Pokfulam into Silicon Valley.  Why should anyone move there?  There are plenty of better-located offices. And what on earth is the government doing competing (badly, it goes without saying) with private-sector landlords in the first place?
2. The government is drafting legislation to ban people in Timbuctoo, Bermuda and everywhere else on the planet from accepting on-line bets on soccer games from Hong Kong, and to ban Hongkongers from using such sites in the privacy of their homes.  Minor problem – both will be completely impossible to enforce.
3. The government has announced plans to annex the moon.
Fri, 5 April

Ching Ming.  Honour your ancestors by setting fire to a mountain, why don't you?