Hemlock's Diary

The ravings of Hong Kong's most obnoxious expat
19-25 October 2003
Sun, 19 Oct
Spend the Lord’s Day in Perpetual Opulence Mansions in quiet contemplation on the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who is being beatified by the Pope.  Specifically, I re-read Christopher Hitchen’s superb book, The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, and wonder at how millions of fools idolize this Albanian carrion crow, whose life of callousness and avarice was so fittingly followed by a fast-track to sainthood with the help of a bogus miracle.

Mon, 20 Oct
The mystery of the girl who changes her clothes during the day is solved.  For some time I have noticed this young lady – an accounting flunky – whenever I pass through the 18th floor in S-Meg Tower.  There’s nothing exceptional about her, except that she sometimes changes outfit from, say, a pink skirt in the morning to a dark one with black stockings in the afternoon.  Occasionally, she actually changes back to the morning dress towards the end of the day.  Most puzzling.  Is she sneaking off to frequent, unsuccessful job interviews when no-one is watching?  But all becomes clear today, when I see her talking to
herself!  There are two of them – identical twins, I now learn.  What if I had become intimate with one?  I could have ended up accidentally groping the other behind the filing cabinets and then making legal history by courageously challenging the jury to distinguish between the two.  S-Meg Holdings Exec Acquitted in Mistaken Identity Sexual Harassment Case.

Tue, 21 Oct
Sipping our cucumber and hemp soy milk at Pacific Coffee as the sun rises over Exchange Square, wild American friend Odell and I reel in horror at the story of the innocent abroad who descended into a
maelstrom of dreadfulness originating in Wanchai.  “He made every mistake in the book,” declares Odell, shaking his head in disbelief.  “Saw the girl a second time. Gave his phone number to her. Gave her his apartment keys.”  I wince.  Odell, who first encountered his dysfunctional Thai wife Mee in the district, knows all about the perils of the disco dungeons.  North of Hennessy Road, a long-term relationship means she stays overnight.  Doesn’t everyone know?  I will arrange for the Hong Kong Tourism Board website to link to this instructive tale as a warning to visitors and newcomers.  Indeed, it is such an enlightening story that we can’t resist reading it a second time.  As a French nobleman noted, life would be unbearable without the misery of our friends.

Wed, 22 Oct
A Jehovah’s Witness was lynched on Caine Road last night – the fifth this year, if I recall correctly.   We mind our own business in the Mid-Levels.  If someone has nailed a Filipino domestic helper to a tree by her ear as a reminder to get the Mercedes washed before 4am, we just look the other way.  But the “strange fruit” dangling from the lamppost in the park attracted a crowd of at least 100, many grinning and posing to have their photograph taken. Will these proselytizing vermin ever get the message?
Harbour Fest, our well-attended series of state-subsidized rock concerts, receives another boost with the announcement that Nicholas Tse, Andy Hui and Joey Yung will not be inflicting their rancid, machine-produced Cantopop pap on the audience.  A similar product called Twins will be appearing – the performers being so devoid of talent, and their fans so brain-dead, that the act is of global anthropological interest.  Meanwhile, not content with hurling taxpayers’ money down the toilet on pop music, our venomous officials have decided to host the next World Trade Organization conference.  We pay HK$300 million, and in exchange we will be inundated with pretentious dignitaries from 100 countries, traffic jams and rioting crowds of unwashed, economically illiterate anti-globalization rabble. I don’t think I, personally, could devise a more effective way for the Hong Kong Government to express its loathing and contempt for the 7 million hapless citizens of the Big Lychee – and I have a gift for malice.
The “cheap scumbag magnet” installed by the MTR on the Mid-Levels Escalator continues to draw low-earning commuters from throughout South China.  For miles they plod to wave their magic Octopus Cards over the device and get a HK$2 discount on the evening train ride back to their dank, disease-ridden public housing estates.  And now they are rationalizing their activities.  This afternoon, I witness an office messenger waving several dozen Octopus Cards one by one over the machine.  He tells me that gathering his colleagues’ Octopus Cards in a big envelope and going up the escalator to swipe them is now a part of his daily duties.  He adds that he sees a business opportunity.  If he can collect and swipe 2,000 cards a day for 25 cents each, that would be HK$500 a day – a 30 percent pay rise, and he can be his own boss.  There is one small snag.  Unfortunately for him, I have already decided to alert the MTR to what is going on.  Clearly, the “Fare Saver”, as it is called, is there to lure Homo midlevelsus onto the MTR, not reduce the burden of monopolistic and exploitative fares on the lower orders, who have no alternative means of transport to their far-flung and malodorous tenements.  But nice try!  I am sure this enterprising young man will go far.

Thurs, 23 Oct
North Korea kills the babies of women repatriated from China in case the fathers are foreign.  In India, vigilante gangs gouge out the eyes of petty crooks and pour acid into the sockets.  In Malaysia, a state wants to pass a law requiring rape victims to produce four witnesses of good character, or face 80 lashes for false accusation.  In the midst of such atavism, Hong Kong struggles to contribute its share of excitement to the world.  On the bright side, the quality of Harbour Fest rises again, as a hitherto unheard-of group of unappealing British bimbos called Atomic Kitten pull out.  On the other hand, our spineless Financial Secretary Henry Tang
postpones the balancing of the Government’s budget until 2008-09, on the grounds that it’s too much like hard work to cut expenditure or raise taxes. He has HK$240 billion in reserves to fall back on. It’s such a huge amount that there will still be some left after our 170,000 dedicated civil servants – all proudly giving something back to the community in exchange for salaries double those of the private sector – spend six more years pouring it down the toilet as fast as they can.
Fri, 24 Oct
It is ages since I last heard from my curious acquaintance A-Hing, or the Mid-Levels Dog Strangler as he is known on the Peak, where people live in constant fear that their precious pooch will be his next victim.  He emailed me out of the blue
nearly a year ago, asking whether Jehovah’s Witnesses were edible.  But since then, nothing.  Until today when, to my delight, I see he’s back.  He is needed.  The noise, disease and filth created by dogs are respectively disruptive, dangerous and revolting.  In Beijing, entire neighbourhoods used to join together to beat the disgusting creatures to death – though Hong Kong movie starlets have since made it trendy up there to own nasty little mutant canines with genetically engineered grins fixed on their faces.  The psychology of the beasts’ owners is interesting.  What sort of inadequate person enjoys, let alone needs, mastership over a subservient and slavish pack animal?  I suspect they are people who are themselves kept on a leash and expected to obey commands, at work, at home, or both.  Anyway, welcome back A-Hing!  But could he be losing his touch, leaving his carbofuran-laced chicken where people taking Bonzo for walkies will see it?  The SPCA’s Executive Director Chris Hanselman wants the pesticide banned.  "We want to know why it's being imported into Hong Kong when we are not an agrarian city,” he whines.  He has obviously never been kept awake by incessant yapping. Meanwhile, we can now sit back and enjoy the inevitable ridiculous letters to the newspapers from Mr Angry of Bowen Road, demanding that the Hong Kong Police devote helicopters and sharpshooters to 24-hour operations to protect expats’ mutts.

A phone call from an out-of-work journalist asking whether I have heard rumours about a new English-language magazine being founded in Hong Kong, provisionally titled
Spike.  “Indeed I have,” I confirm.  “Rumour number-one is that Stephen Vines will be running it.  A great writer, but tragically cursed, with most publications he runs folding.  Rumour number-two is that it will include material translated from – wait for it – Apple Daily.”  Silence at the other end.  “Hello?”  He’s vanished.