Hemlock's Diary

The diary of Hong Kong’s most obnoxious expat

17-23 March 2002
Sun, 17 Mar

Few things are more pitiful than aging, unappealing Hong Kong men marrying Mainland girls young enough to be their daughters.  So it is with a heavy heart that I put down the phone after our Financial and Central Planning Secretary Antony Leung calls to tell me he is going to announce plans to marry his 4 ft 6, diving-board-chested Olympic medallist enchantress, Fu Mingxia. I give it to the poor man straight.  "She speaks no Cantonese or English.  She knows no-one here.  After six months she will get depressed, hack you to death with a meat cleaver and then jump out of the window."  It doesn't sink in.  I could warn him of the dangers presented to older men in the bedchamber by energetic young women with extremely supple bodies, but it would be waste of breath.
Go to airport with Muriel.  She is going to some place in Thailand where Western backpackers take drugs and dance all night on the beach. She is not impressed when I tell her that Thais call such people "farang kee nok" - foreign bird droppings.

I hop on my flight to Saigon. Check in at the Omni before noon, and stroll around. What is the best thing about Vietnam?  Is it the superb food?  No.  Is it the beautiful, graceful women?  No.  Is it the breathtaking countryside? No.  Is it the evocative architecture?  No.  Is it the sight of French tourists having to speak English to the locals?  Yes, indeed. 

Sit at a sidewalk café watching the world go by near Mac Thi Buoi Street.  Ms Tam flies in this evening.  I leave a message warning her that the Omni is haunted – that'll get her into my room for the night. Never fails.

Mon, 18 Mar

Fearing ghosts, Ms Tam spent the whole night in the lounge near the reception.  But I can tell she is definitely tempted, mentally undressing me in the taxi as I explain the "stupidity test" we will use to determine whom to fire. She is wearing a trouser suit – forbidden at head office – that reveals her to be delightfully endowed in the buttocks department.  Very curvy and, frankly, grab-able.

Arrive at the dusty office in Cholon to find an apprehensive S-Meg Holdings local manager, Mr Chan, already there.  We rotate all the desks in the main part of the office, so they are at a 45-degree angle to the walls. We move the clock so it faces north ("last time we put it there, four employees lost grandparents in the same week," warns Mr Chan).  We put up some Kandinski pictures, specially chosen for their angular shapes and harsh colours.  We lower a mirror, so people's reflections lack heads.  And we replace the miniature desktop fountain on a filing cabinet with a nasty sculpture involving four spikes pointing upwards.  Ms Tam and I go out for coffee and croissants.  By mid-morning, Mr Chan has a list of employees feeble-minded enough to believe in feng shui and objecting to the new layout.  A bemused Ms Tam - her human resources diploma clearly didn't cover this highly effective method of selecting staff for layoff – inserts their names into form letters informing them that their services are no longer required. Then, an afternoon flight back to HK. Another day, another Hong Kong dollar.

Fri, 22 Mar

What is the Society for Truth and Light? They are a bunch of interfering, dictatorial, sexually repressed puritans with very tiny penises who are apparently now allowed to decide Hong Kong's policy on soccer gambling. Call Secretary for Home Affairs WK Lam to ask what he's playing at.  "Why," I demand, "are you letting half a dozen Christian do-gooder moral guardians hold everything up?" I can hear the decisive man of action squirming in his leather chair at the other end of the line.  "People have very strong feelings….serious lack of consensus in the community…blah blah."  What are we paying this man for? Gambling revenues are a "stupid tax" voluntarily paid by the least intelligent people in the population – a tax on people who blow the family's food budget on a one-in-a-million chance to win a fortune.  What better tax could anyone possibly devise?

Sat, 23 Mar

Rugby Sevens.  My second-favourite occasion of the year, because every sweaty, blubbery gwailo in town has been interned in a stadium where they paint their faces, indulge in inebriated pagan chanting and watch hulking oafs run up and down a field, leaving the rest of the city a distinctly more pleasant place.  The best time, of course, is Chinese New Year, when the gwailos are dispatched to tiresome beaches in Sourtheast Asia and most of the locals go back to the family pig farm, leaving the city largely free of its sorry, teeming humanity.