Hemlock's Diary

The ravings of Hong Kong’s most obnoxious expat

Week ending  9 Feb 2002
Mon, 4 Feb

Have sold another painting, for HK$58,000.  Not bad for about a day’s work.  I wish I’d thought of this idea earlier.  Ugly, naïve paintings of Chinese-looking people in garish colours, surrounded by random Mainland imagery – calligraphy, lanterns, red stars, Mao, etc.  I tell Hollywood Road art galleries that they are done by a gifted peasant from a village near Beijing, and give them a copy of his biography, which includes a photo of a suitably bohemian looking northerner (cut and pasted from a website about people in China catching HIV from selling blood).  These things sell like hot cakes – they are characterized by “bitter ironies of China’s newly emerging class inequalities”, according to one appreciative buyer. The only drawback is frustration at not being able to point at a painting and say “I did that”.  For this reason, I try to avoid setting foot in the China Club, which has at least two of my works. 

Tue, 5 Feb

I am developing quite a taste for working class women, possibly as a result of my dalliance with one of the cleaners on the Mid-Levels escalator last month.  Passing a construction site this morning, my eyes met with those of an extremely fetching Thai lady who was guiding trucks out onto the road with a red flag.  Within a minute we were urgently at it behind a yellow metal hut next to the site.  She was very grateful, and it was a delightful start to the day.

Wed, 6 Feb

Drop into the circus in the afternoon to see the clowns and beasts performing.  The honorable Tommy Cheung has introduced a motion calling on the Government to waive rates in the coming financial year. By my rough reckoning, that would deprive the Government of a sum equal to about a fifth of its health budget.  Obviously, no economically illiterate Hong Kong legislator is going to see it that way, even a businessman like Mr Cheung who might be expected to have some knowledge of cash flows and the reality that money doesn’t grow on trees.  Then again, he is a member of the Liberals, the party of psychedelic drug users that treated us a couple of years ago to the surreal sight of a demonstration demanding higher housing prices. 

Fri, 8 Feb

Winky Ip, Financial Secretary Antony Leung’s assistant, gives me a call. Her boss is extremely worried about the forthcoming budget, and I must say I share his concerns, for two reasons.  First, poor performance on his part may encourage the unfair belief that people afflicted with grotesquely ugly faces are somehow unable to contribute to society.  Second, he’s going to bankrupt us. I urge Winky to raise the issue of cutting civil service salaries across the board, and she reluctantly promises to do so.  In all fairness, I greatly admire the private sector ethos Antony has brought to his office.  Any career civil servant would have renamed his assistant Florence within minutes of taking the job. 

Sat, 9 Feb

Sights that warm the heart
: a newborn baby being cradled in its mother’s arms ... A giant whale gracefully breaking the surface of the ocean ... Sunrise at the Taj Mahal ... A Mercedes being rammed by a taxi on Queen’s Road. This morning, I joyfully beheld the last of these, and for a brief moment considered that there may be a god after all.