Hemlock's Diary

The ravings of Hong Kong's most obnoxious expat

22-28 December 2002
Mon, 23 Dec
Can't resist dropping into the office for an hour. The elevator music is "Dreaming of a White Christmas". Is it just me, or does the tune sound similar to the Londonderry Air ("Danny Boy")?  Predictably, S-Meg Holdings is ticking over wonderfully without the Big Boss's constant meddling and tantrums.  A feng shui man is checking S-Meg Tower to ensure the Big Boss's tragic fall down the stairs and onto a Ming vase doesn't happen to anyone else. The look of horror on the old fraud's face when he pokes his head round my office door and sees me is a delight to behold.  He can tell what I think of this absurd voodoo.  He beats a hasty retreat, scribbling "Paint the gwailo red and point it in a northeast direction" in his notebook.

Tue, 24 Dec
Hang up stocking next to split level air-con, the nearest thing Perpetual Opulence Mansions offers.  As one busy man to another, I keep my letter to the point.
Dear Santa,
I am amazed at how virtuous I have been, even by my standards, during 2002.  Sobriety has been the norm.  So has goodwill towards those parts of mankind that deserve it (if only there were more of them).  And of course chastity (to the extent that it's any of your business). Please leave
  - one dozen cases of Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1961
  - a Rickenbacker 360 12-string
  - the plump girl with dyed ginger hair who works the night shift at 7-11 on Caine Road
  - a decent 20th century artwork of your choice preferably a Dali or a Picasso, otherwise something by Ed Hopper
  - a large framed photo of Regina Ip in a 1-piece swimsuit reclining by the side of a pool at night during a full moon

Have a good 2003
Wed, 25 Dec
Gaudete! Christus est natus ex Maria Virgine.  And all the gwailos are in their homes with hangovers, which they will attempt to cure with turkey.  I agree with the Cantonese that turkey is too bland and dry.  Why bother when the world is full of chickens, ducks and geese?  What I hate most about festivals is that they disrupt the normal routines of life.  Lan Kwai Fong last night was infested with rabble that would never normally set foot in the place.  Today, there are no newspapers.  All because some single girl 2,000 years ago managed to get away with the most breathtakingly outlandish explanation for her pregnancy.

Invitations to Christmas dinner started pouring in in November.  After sifting out those involving encounters with people I don't know, I accepted wild ex-Mormon Odell's offer, which included the prospect of Thai food cooked by his wife Mee.  As it happens, Odell had been on a mid-day to 4.00am Christmas Eve binge and is barely functioning.  He spends the day grunting and groaning on a sofa.  After Mee's superb curries and salads, watch
The Exorcist and eat Turkish delight and pickled ginger.

Fri, 27 Dec
News to warm the heart
: Singapore might be slipping back into recession.

Get a call from Morris, the New Territories' favourite Glaswegian law enforcement officer, on his way to the airport.  Surprisingly, the Hong Kong Police have given him leave of absence to do his duty for queen and country.  "So you didn't make Baghdad for Christmas." I taunt him.  "Och, I'll see the Year of the Ram in there," he says. "Hogmanay in Scotland, briefings at an army base, and then out to Kuwait."  Where his prisoner interrogation skills will, I am sure, be put to good use. I sound him out on one of my predictions for 2003 that Hong Kong will experience serious civil disorder for the first time in a couple of decades. "We get it all the time," he says.  "Right of abode protestors, local lads and Nepalese fighting over football games."  I correct him
: "I mean rioting, by normal local people, reported by the world media.  Say, a festive gathering of young people at the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront.  You people arrest a minor vandal and blam!  Windows smashed in Nathan Road, tear gas everywhere."  He bets me a bottle of Glenmorangie malt it won't happen.

Sat, 28 Dec
A return to depressing, post-yuletide normalcy, judging by today's mail. My salaries tax receipt arrives from the Inland Revenue Department.  With just a couple of working days between the time they received it and now, they must have cashed the cheque before the ink was dry.  Or did our blood-sucking Government, gorging itself on honest citizens' hard-earned wealth, cancel tax collectors' leave over Christmas?  The postman also delivers what initially seems to be a useful-size ring-bound notebook from HSBC a little seasonal gift for their loyal customers.  But no, it is a catalogue of "rewards" for using their credit cards. Earn 17,000 points, and I could get a Hello Kitty vacuum flask or a paperweight in the form of a pewter model of HSBC's HQ on a wooden plinth.  Dreading the agony involved in having to choose between the two, not to mention numerous other indispensable items, I hastily put the catalogue and my personal "rewards multiplier" in the bin.