Hemlock's Diary

The ravings of Hong Kong's most obnoxious expat
22-28 June 2003
Sun, 22 Jun
Odell, founder of the world’s first Mormon pornographic website, drags me to a meeting of the Central and Western District Survivalists.  A mixed bunch.  A woman with a faded
I Love Free Hong Kong T-shirt jabs my shoulder – “That Tung Chee-hwa has links with Red China, you know that?”  I smile and shrug.  “Sounds very unlikely, “ I reassure her.  “You shouldn’t listen to rumours.”  One wild-eyed character insists that the residents of the Mid-Levels are descended from one of the lost tribes of Israel.   Another has had his name changed legally to Rambo, though we address him as Mr Ma out of embarrassment.  What we all have in common is stockpiles – Watson’s water in the bathroom, instant noodles in the kitchen and guns under the bed – all ready for when the public housing estates rise up, and the starving, unemployed masses cross the harbour with meat cleavers clenched between their teeth and hatred burning in their eyes.  The consensus is that we can ward off Armageddon if we blow up the Mid-Levels Escalator in time.  “Those people are too lazy to walk uphill,” declares Mr Ma.  “They wouldn’t even make it to Caine Road. And they can’t afford taxis.”  I will sleep easier than ever.
Mon, 23 June
Instant normality in the form of rank stupidity greets the WHO’s removal of Hong Kong from the list of SARS-affected areas.   Protestors set sail for Diaoyutai, the worthless lump of rock over which Japan has a better claim of sovereignty than the glorious motherland does over reefs off the Philippines and Vietnam.  Aimed at Beijing as much as Tokyo, this patriotic foray always promises good-value, action-packed entertainment – a non-swimmer leaping to his death, or the Chrysanthemum Throne’s coastguard sinking the boat.  Meanwhile, our absurd Tourism Board swiftly reverts to its pre-SARS assumption that nothing attracts tourists like a cretinous slogan.  This time, it’s “Colours and Sparkles”, which hits a new level of inanity, even by their standards.  A public hanging of whoever thought it up would pull in visitors.  Perhaps that’s the plan.  And in S-Meg Tower, a bleary-eyed company lawyer panics.  He has been up since 3am, when a frantic phone call from the Big Boss ordered him to rescue number-one son from the clutches of the police, who had the impertinence to arrest the brat after he drove his lime green Porsche over a fire hydrant that some idiot had installed on a sidewalk on Kennedy Road.  Back to
business as usual.
Tue, 24 June
Stricken with motion discomfort, the valiant Diaoyutai protesters call off their
attempt to recover the islets that Japanese imperialists so ruthlessly prised from the embrace of the motherland.  Can these people really be the descendants of Ming Dynasty Admiral Cheng Ho, whose giraffe-collecting voyages to Africa are of such national pride?  Cheng’s masters having thoughtfully removed his penis and testicles, in accordance with the quaint practice of the time, the answer is, of course, no.  I will contribute to the cause by sending them some ginger tea, or perhaps a more powerful Western remedy, so they will keep their sea legs next time.
Wed, 25 June
The Big Boss is out all day.  Kites soar between the skyscrapers of Central, as Elgar’s mournful but defiant Cello Concerto plays on my PC.  Daniel J. Goldhagen's anti-German classic
Hitler’s Willing Executioners lies nearly finished on the desk, next to my lunch of soup noodles and dumplings. Not much in the news.  An absurd Hong Kong hooker-bimbo called So has been given an 18-month sentence in Bangkok for falsely claiming she was raped by a tuk-tuk driver.  Why are we supposed to be interested?  Elephantine entertainer
and endorser-of-absolutely-anything Lydia Shum is taking her 16-year-old, 200lb daughter to a fat farm.  I will never forget seeing the bloated Fei-Fei, in a swimming costume, somehow squeeze herself through a hoop – a foot in diameter?  I saw it. It happened. Meanwhile, the Most Retarded Idea of the Week Award can only go to the Airport Authority, who are inviting expressions of interest in developing and operating a nine-hole golf course on a spare 11 hectares they have found lying around at Chek Lap Kok.  Music, a book, a fine view, food and an inexhaustible supply of idiocy.  This is bliss.
Thurs, 26 June
Pro-government clowns predictably and mechanically
defeated yesterday’s motion in the circus encouraging people to spend the 1 July public holiday marching against the Hong Kong Patriot Act.  How many citizens, previously considering a movie or a barbecue, will now attend the demonstration just to irritate their favourite plutocratic buffoon?  To put it another way, how many people would have cancelled plans to
protest and gone to the beach instead if the ridiculous Liberal Party boss James Tien had urged them to get out onto the streets and voice their opinion?   The sound of James’s brain seizing up as it attempts to accommodate such lateral thinking is too unpleasant to contemplate.  Everyone is being asked to wear black to this march.  I can’t.  Not only is it unoriginal, it’s bad aesthetics.  Tight black T-shirts are the preserve of runty-looking, body-building, neo-nazi sexual deviants, while the baggy equivalent belongs on Muslim women or suicidal rock musicians – though both are obviously preferable to black button-up shirts, which are simply unacceptable.  I will sport my mainly white James Tien for Mensa Chairman T-shirt.
Fri, 27 June
“Nowadays you don’t get volunteers,” laments a Hindu monk on the
decline of human sacrifice in India.  How sad.  Young people don’t care about the old traditions and customs any more – they’d rather go to McDonald’s.  This is the evil of global capitalism – the eradication of the picturesque eccentricities of diverse, ancient cultures.  The practice of slitting 18-month-old girls’ throats will now go the way of the eunuchs of Beijing, leaving a homogenised world of Coca Cola and the Body Shop. Is it any wonder that Dr Mahathir Mohamad declares Anglo Saxons to be “warmongering, greedy sexual deviants”?

National Premier Wen Jiabao will show himself to be a man of the people when he
visits Hong Kong next week by going to the dismal City One, in Shatin.  Talk about slumming it.  I vaguely recall spending an afternoon in the place in the late 1980s.  Navigating my way around the dormitory of high-rise rabbit hutches, I had to beat girls away with sticks, so desperate were they for a foreign passport in those days.  Do ugly, black leather sofas, occupying a third of the square footage of each living room, still proclaim residents’ membership of our industrious lower middle class, as they did back then?  Or have people graduated to some other form of status symbol – chandaliers, or vast TVs, perhaps?  Maybe Premier Wen will keep an eye out and let me know.