Hemlock's Diary

The diary of Hong Kong’s most obnoxious expat

18-24 August, 2002
Sun, 18 Aug
Back from Shenzhen. The tasks at the S-Meg office were trivial – sack a few people
pour encourager les autres – though my report to the Big Boss will describe several days' hard work.  Thus, a weekend at the company's expense, observing Shenzhen for the first time in a couple of years.  The True Colour Bar is still full of assorted nouveau riche peasants spitting on the veranda and HK kids getting drunk on the cheap.  The pubs on the Shekou waterfront are still the favoured hangout for British power station engineers with their tattoos and Mainland belles.  Time taken standing in line at Mainland immigration today: 2 hours; time at HK immigration: 0.3 seconds.

In many other respects, however, Shenzhen is doing a surprisingly good job of becoming a nicer place than Hong Kong.  Much less expensive and much less crowded – even if our totalitarian government allowed it, where in Hong Kong would you get an excellent bowl of dog stew for two for HK$25 in a restaurant with plenty of elbow room?  Street crime has eased off to the extent that visitors are no longer confronted with the fascinating spectacle of police handcuffing street urchins to railings for the day to keep them out of people's pockets. Hookers no longer linger outside cinemas for whatever reason they used to do that. For people who shop, the stores look better than ever. Black and white are currently "in", with whole streets full of boutiques selling clothing in no other colours – very handy if you need something to wear at a trendy funeral. And the mixture of happy, smiling Szechuanese, Hunanese, Shanghainese and even the odd Tibetan give the place a more cosmopolitan and confident feel than angst-ridden, self-pitying Cantoville south of the border.  After three days, I conclude that the secret must be foot-massage, an activity that accounts for about 40% of Shenzhen's GDP.

Mon, 19 Aug
A call from Jenny, the charming lady from Beijing-but-she's-got-a-US-passport. It was nice meeting me last week, she says.  I normally have little patience with people who state the obvious, but I have a soft spot for this girl. It seems I have been on her mind, and she would like to get together after her imminent business trip.  I agree in a flash. I find myself looking forward to it.  This is disturbing.

Drop in to Western Court to see the sado-masochists of
Fetish Fashion acquitted of keeping a disorderly house, the penalty for which is a fine of up to 35 shillings and/or transportation to Botany Bay.  Call voluptuous dominatrix-cum-Secretary for Security Regina Ip for the story behind this case, but she is, according to her ever-candid assistant, tied up.  So I ask my friend Morris, the most senior Glaswegian in the uniforms, leather straps and handcuffs brigade that is the HK Police. He explains that our decisive and fearless Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa lies awake at night worrying about the dangers perverted gwailos pose to simple, plain-living Hong Kong folk.  Put that way, masochism sounds like it might be worth exploring after all.  Imagine the orgasmic pleasure to be derived from paying taxes in a town where the police spend millions of dollars prosecuting people for dripping hot wax on each other, leaving gangsters free to burn down restaurants that don't hand over their profits.

Tue, 20 Aug
Am being blackmailed.  Return to Perpetual Opulence Mansions to find a note on the kitchen table from the elves. “Dear Sir, we have been offered $60 an hour by another employer so we cannot work for you after this week.  Also we are afraid of being arrested for illegal part-time work.”  My English-Tagalog dictionary has no entry for “deflation”, so I suppose the two cunning but dependable little fiends will get their pay rise.  Without their never-seen thrice-weekly visits to my apartment, clothes would go unwashed and unironed, dust would gather on shelves, sinful stains would accumulate on bed linen, and essential supplies would run out in the kitchen and bathroom.  Life would be unbearable were it not for two things – the misery of our friends, and elves.

Wed, 21 Aug
A list of legislators has been published.  At the top is Lau Chin-shek, a tiresome individual even by the standards of the Democratic Party.  Next is Rita Fan, for whom I do have some time, owing to her private vice – stamping small furry animals to death with spiked-heel shoes.   In third place is poor Selina Chow, who manages to support the anti-consumer ban on parallel imports while also heading the demented HK Tourism Board, which laughably seeks to con tourists into thinking Hong Kong is good value for money.  Fellow member of the so-called Liberal Party, the ridiculous James Tien, comes sixth.  I am not sure which drugs he uses, but any substance that makes you believe the economy will strengthen if the government makes property artificially more expensive is probably worth trying.  So what is this list exactly?  The stupidest lawmakers?  The hardest to take seriously?  The ones who would look best stuffed and mounted in a glass case in the Legco foyer?  No – only the most popular, according to a
HK University poll, presumably of the mentally diseased.

A mysterious call from a number that seems to be in Central Government Offices but is dead when I later try calling back. A "friend" has put $29,300 in my bank account – would I please check to confirm it is there?  A quick look at HSBC online.  Yes, it was deposited this morning.  Would I go to Western Court and anonymously pay the fines of 16 Falung Gong members recently convicted of causing obstruction outside the Mainland's Liaison Office?  The friend would be most grateful.  Click.  I suppose it's for the best. The headlines in the foreign press don't bear thinking about if the Falun Dafa bores get their week-in-jail martyrdom for non-payment.  Put on dark glasses and head off to Pokfulam.  Personally, I'd stuff durians up their backsides – that would get them out of the lotus position and onto their feet.  Still, anything for Regina. 

Fri, 23 Aug

We are told not to speak ill of the dead.  I am therefore relieved to find that the Councillor David Chu who committed suicide yesterday was one Chu Chor-sing of Kowloon City District Council, and not Chu Yu-lin of Legco, who is still alive and "colourful" (or in plain English, insane and irritating in equal measures).  This is the David Chu who has stated that Chinese people have a different brain structure – and thus higher intelligence – than other humans.  He neatly disproved this theory by managing to be hit by a reversing van outside the Mandarin Hotel on Chater Road while waiting for his limo to take him to Legco, some 75 yards away.  And then there was the embarrassing paraglide to Beijing.  When the time comes for his eulogy, there will be no shortage of material.
"Chief Whip" - Legco President Rita Fan as portrayed by Not The South China Morning Post. © Wally Wilde.  All rights strictly and tightly bound with rubber hosing and suspended from the ceiling.