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

15-21 February 2004

Sun, 15 Feb
Dim sum with Polly the lipstick lesbian.  She has a theory that our fearless Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa should officially be considered unpatriotic for failing in his duty to implement Article 23 of the Basic Law.  “If he had been a true patriot,” she reasons, “he would have made sure the security legislation had been worded much better, so people wouldn’t have been worried about it.  And he wouldn’t have tried to push it through in a rush.  And he wouldn’t have let his senior officials insult everyone over the issue.”  An interesting idea, though I still subscribe to the ‘tofu-for-brains’ explanation for the crop-haired one’s tragic lack of success in nearly everything he tries to do.  “Patriots must also oppose Taiwan independence,” I remark, dipping a shrimp har gau into soy sauce.   “So what about Mao?  In the 1930s he said Korea and Taiwan deserved independence from the Japanese.  He didn’t consider Taiwan national territory then.” 

Polly drags me off to a Wanchai disco dungeon, where she reverts from political pundit to sexual predator, lusting for a bit of Indonesian ‘
rough’.  “Too much competition,” she laments after 20 minutes.  The word is getting around, it seems.  She points out two other Chinese women – one plump in short hair, trying to chat up a nubile domestic helper, the other slim and middle-aged, nervously eyeing the dusky talent on the dance floor.  Deng Xiaoping, we have recently been reminded, said that Chinese patriots must love their race.  What would he have made of this scene?

Mon, 16 Feb
A thought-provoking juxtaposition of Hong Kong headlines in this morning’s
South China Morning Post‘Beijing has ruled out universal suffrage in 2007’ and Filipino maids run for seats in Congress.  We can’t vote, but our domestic helpers can.  Proof, no doubt, of the debilitating effects of democracy.  It either leaves people interesting but so impoverished they must wash foreigners’ dishes (like the Filipinos), wealthy but boring (like the Swiss and the Canadians) or simply eating the most disgusting food imaginable (as in the UK and US).  If poor old tofu-for-brains had any political sense, he would remind us how lucky we are in Hong Kong to enjoy the best of all worlds.

There's a market for everything.  British children’s publication the
Guardian reports on a new batch of designer drugs – “strange and outrageous chemicals” – that bizarrely replicate the effects of life in Hong Kong.
DMT   Dimethyltryptamine
Found in minute quantities in certain Amazonian plants and in the human brain. Smoked, the effects are nearly instantaneous and very strange. "The closest you'll get to experiencing death bar actually dying" as one user put it.
Just like living in Shatin!  And for the grown-ups there’s…
5-Meo-DMT  Methoxydimethyltryptamine
A more powerful sister compound of DMT, occurring naturally in the venom of the Bufo alvarius toad but generally smoked in synthesised form. Not uncommon for those who take large amounts to suffer psychological and emotional difficulties for weeks afterwards.
The Hong Kong education system in a pill.  And to think people doubt the worth of the Bufo alvarius toad!

Tue, 17 Feb
Another consultation with Dr Barnabas Wu MB, ChB FRCP (Edin), to confirm that the agonizing back and leg damage I suffered last week has healed.  I know it has, because I have been able to walk, hop, skip, do the triple jump and swing from the chandeliers for several days without feeling the slightest twinge of pain.  But he knows I am insured, so a second HK$700 consultation is necessary.  What Dr Wu doesn’t know is that S-Meg Holdings, like all traditional Chinese companies, gives its employees cash rather than benefits, much to everyone’s advantage most of the time.  Thus, my medical insurance provides only the statutory minimum level of coverage – enough to compensate the lower orders when they visit some purulent clinic in a rat-infested corner of a public housing estate, but not enough for an aspirin in gleaming Central.  Most of Dr Wu’s fee for spending five minutes telling me what I already know therefore comes from my own pocket. 
Determined to get some entertainment for my money, I rummage around on the quack's desk while he steps out of his office.  There’s a newsletter from his church – an all-Chinese, all-multimillionaire congregation that gathers every Sunday on the south side of Hong Kong island to thank God for making them much, much richer than everyone else.  There’s a pharmaceutical company’s price list, generously offering members of our healing profession hefty discounts, presumably in recognition of their noble contribution to the well-being of the community.  There’s a glossy Mercedes catalogue.  There’s a copy of Christian Parenting magazine.  And, at last I find what I’m looking for... the medical records of Liberal Party Chairman James Tien.  “Bizarre variant of phantom limb syndrome,” the doctor has scrawled in his notes, “patient thinks he has a brain.”
Wed, 18 Feb
A dim-witted FBI man is
arrested in transfer at Hong Kong airport after the baggage X-ray shows he’s left a clip of .45 ammunition next to his shaving cream and fresh underwear.  The Hong Kong media froth at the mouth, though it’s hard to see what harm he could do without a gun.  Unless… Was he also carrying a vise clamped to a heavy workbench, a decent hammer and a 3-inch nail stuck through a cork?  Memories come back of a naughty teenage prank involving loud bangs and a novel way of improving ventilation in the garden shed.

A phone call from delectable Administrative Officer Winky Ip, despairing at the latest Mainland contribution to the patriotism debate.  Vice-Minister for Commerce An Min has
lashed out at Hong Kong rogues who have the temerity to claim that to love China does not mean one has to love the Communist Party – while our Commerce Secretary Henry Tang looks on, hiding his helplessness behind a forced smile.  “It’s news to us,” she moans. “It’s a learning curve for all of us in Government.”  It must be awkward.  While no-one was looking, the word ‘patriotism’ seems to have acquired the same definition as the word ‘obedience’.  I’m intrigued at how people like Donald Tsang, Henry Tang and the rest manage not to look too freaked out when sitting next to Mainland officials delivering another shock, giving menacing and unpredictable new meanings to words and laws.  “It must be like being caught up in Stalin’s show trials,” I suggest.  “Our officials have to agree with whatever the Beijing ogre says, even if it’s the opposite of what they themselves have been saying.”  Apparently, they are not totally unprepared.  “They’ve been on training courses,” says Winky.  “Some sort of Zen thing.  And Valium.”

Thurs, 19 Feb
Start the morning with American friend Odell at the IFC Mall branch of Pacific Coffee, sipping guava, rosehip and mint yoghurt.  Odell bounces his latest moneymaking idea off me – T-shirts bearing the slogan ‘No to sustainable development Yes to bourgeois decadence’.  I tell him they will sell by the million and he will be able to retire on the proceeds.  We watch the shapely accounting and marketing vixens march enthusiastically to another day at the office.  “Know any good jokes?“ he eventually asks.  I think for a few moments.  “OK,” I reply.  “When the Tungs have sex, why does Betty always go on top?”  “Eeww”, he murmurs, screwing up his face.  It goes back a long way, that one.  I first heard it about Jimmy Carter and Rosalyn.  People were probably telling it about George III or Emperor Nero.  “OK, get it over with,” demands my ex-Mormon friend.  “Because,” I explain, “CH can only fuck up.”

Fri, 20 Feb
Excited chatter on the Mid-Levels Escalator this morning as word spreads among the commuting throngs that aesthetically unsurpassed non-blog
Not The South China Morning Post has regurgitated itself back into action after several weeks’ break.  A quick look at the updated site reveals a photograph of a swan vomiting at the feet of the founding editor’s daughter.  A first, I believe, for any Hong Kong website.  Further perusing or idling of any type today is cancelled after a malignant Big Boss requires my presence on a mysterious trip to Macau.  Fifteen minutes’ delight in a helicopter, followed by a day of misery as the shoeshining tycoon’s pet gwailo monkey. The things I do for large amounts of money and days of leisure.