|The ravings of Hong Kong's most obnoxious expat
23-29 May 2004
|Sun, 23 May
In Victoria Park yesterday, I passed the unutterable loathsomeness that is the United Buddy Bears display. Arranged in a large circle on the lawn, the effect is similar to Stonehenge, but with large plastic bears painted by the world’s worst artists instead of megaliths. This morning, at IFC Mall, I view an exhibition by the graduating class of Chinese University architecture students. Among the more comprehensible wonders are plans for ‘a radio station on a bridge’ and ‘nomadic revitalization of Island Eastern Corridor’. Hong Kong – city of free entertainment.
And the cheap sort. In HMV, I snap up a HK$45 VCD of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the classic tale of rebellion against authoritarianism, which I watch during the afternoon at Perpetual Opulence Mansions. A suitable story for Hong Kong today, given the current effort being put into the enforcement of conformity. Losing one outspoken radio commentator is, as Oscar Wilde would have said, a misfortune. Two seems like carelessness. And three looks like organization – by PRC State Security paranoiacs with the help of persuasive local freelancers, if Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor is to be believed. That would explain Tung Chee-hwa’s silence in reaction to all the recent allegations of intimidation and erosion of press freedom. The crop-haired one can’t bring himself to obliquely criticise a Beijing authority’s work, even if it’s covert and criminal. Welcome to Lychee State Hospital. Who’s next – or maybe who’s Next – for a lobotomy?
Mon, 24 May
The mood is relaxed on the Mid-Levels Escalator this morning, as word spreads that freedom of expression continues to thrive in Hong Kong. I suspected as much all along, but it’s good to have it cleared up. Gliding down the hill, I pass Soho’s latest self-indulgent, doomed-to-fail ego trip – an ‘organic’ restaurant. By the time a fad hits Hong Kong, it’s inevitably fizzling out elsewhere, so we can safely predict the demise of overpriced ‘organic’ produce sections in supermarkets in the Western world. Is there any food that is not derived in some way from carbon-based life forms? There is one, of course – Cheez Whiz, the famous and extremely tasty polyvinychloride by-product. But I think that’s it. Pondering such matters, I bump into wild American friend Odell, kissing his Thai wife Mee goodbye as she sets off for work. It’s her birthday in a few days, and she wants to have dinner in the neighbourhood. Yes, admits Odell after she leaves, the restaurants here are rubbish – but it’s her choice.
As we sit on the steps outside his apartment block and watch Hong Kong’s bright-eyed middle class trundling down to Central, he takes a deep breath. “Something terrible happened yesterday,” he said. “In Victoria Park.” He bites his lip, and I notice he seems genuinely traumatised. I nod. “Yes, I saw it too – the United Buddy Bears.” He shakes his head. “No. I was gang-raped. By a group of Indonesian girls. Four of them. They held me down and took it in turns. Under some trees on um… on a grassy knoll.” A grassy knoll. I see. There are two possible explanations. One – Odell transgressed yesterday, and this is his half-credible excuse for coming home drunk covered in lipstick, long black hairs, cheap perfume and less mentionable manifestations of illicit carnal activity. This seems quite likely – his defence of Mee’s choice of birthday venue has ‘guilt’ written all over it. Two – Victoria Park is in the forefront of Hong Kong’s tragic decline into savagery, degeneracy and putrescence. This is also quite likely. Who knows?
Continuing work on my 2008 election platform, I consider calling for the eradication of the golf menace from our society. To my delight, I find that such a policy would attract votes from the animal rights lunatics.
Tue, 25 May
A lengthy phone call from my old friend Heung Kwok-leung, whose longstanding success in the Mongkok sub-prime loans market has left him not only with hideous facial scars, but the wealth, time and connections to indulge his fondness for gaming. After consulting me, he decides on the following for the next big horse race …
Henry Tang 3-2 Pros – Supported by the Shanghai clique. Dependable family background. Popular among the Hong Kong rabble. Slight understanding of basic economics. Dashing movie star looks – the Errol Flynn of Hong Kong inherited wealth. ‘Nice but dim’. Cons – Hu-Wen might sideline Shanghai clique by 2007 and look beyond the tycoon caste.
Leung Chun-ying 4-1 Pros – Supported by Henry Fok, CH Tung’s owner before the crop-haired one was sacked in mid-2003. Has a brain. Lean and hungry. Tyrannical instincts, no problem keeping jails full. Cons – Romanian-looking. Loathed by property tycoons for crashing market. Fok is fading, along with memories of his help to the glorious motherland during the 1950s embargoes.
Donald Tsang 9-1 Pros – Hu-Wen might assert control, just might be enlightened enough to put a technocrat in charge. Cons – Not ‘one of us’. Former running dog of imperialists. British plant? OBE. Appointment would look too much like a concession to the local rabble.
Patrick Ho 11-1 Pros – Desperate for the job for several years. Will shoeshine anything and insert tongue anywhere. Personable image among local rabble. Cons – Not enough serious patrons in high places. Fat and ugly.
Arthur Li 11-1 Pros – Statistics, with family members mysteriously occupying improbably large number of senior positions for decades. Has a brain. Could be more palatable alternative to Donald if Hu-Wen go for a technocrat. Cons – Semi-banana. Married to round-eyed barbarian, thus mongrel offspring. Nasty habit of blurting out truth. British plant?
Vincent Lo/Peter Woo/Ronnie Chan/etc 15-1 Pros – Beijing’s track record of choosing rich moron for the job. Cons – Beijing not stupid enough to make that mistake again.
Anson Chan 1000-1
Wed, 26 May
To the Conference and Exhibition Centre to view Lord Buddha’s sarira. Unlike our middle-class Christians, Hong Kong’s Buddhists are mostly from the lower orders, and to my irritation they have turned out in devout multitudes to venerate the divine digit. Why do they have to choose this life to take a look? They have plenty more to go, judging by the unenlightened look of them. They might be living in Happy Valley next time around and wouldn't have to travel so far. After much standing in line, I eventually catch a glimpse of this little finger bone and conclude that it would make a nice whistle. My mind drifts back to when I was taken to a church in France as a youngster and shown a phial of Mary Magdalene’s blood. I remember wondering how they got it from her. My thoughts are interrupted by another gwailo in the crowd who catches my eye. “I see China’s given Hong Kong the finger again,” he says, trying hard not to laugh. Needless to say, I collapse in hysterics and roll around on the floor for five minutes convulsing with hilarity at such original and astounding wit.
Thurs, 27 May
Children are spending more time playing computer games because their parents do not understand them, says a sociologist. Or could it be that parents don’t understand their children because the little brats spend so much time immersed in retarded computerised pastimes? Could it be that we need a computer game in which players compete to drown sociologists at birth?
An unpleasant afternoon lies ahead. I must represent the Big Boss at a meeting of extremely boring people in a seminar on how to solve Hong Kong’s long-term economic positioning problem. This will be as intellectually stimulating as Armageddon Tomb Quest 4. Hong Kong’s long-term economic positioning ‘problem’ is a fiction, invented by Tung Chee-hwa and pushed by his leading officials, chambers of commerce and other parasites and reptiles, in order to give the Government an excuse to plan those parts of the economy it doesn’t yet control. If successful, the result will be to return Hong Kong’s economy to the 1980s and permanently fix it there, with subsidized truckstops, warehouses and factories – in the guise of ‘logistics parks’ and ‘industrial zones’ – leeching off and ultimately choking the productive parts of the economy. Meanwhile, the lawyers, financiers, entrepreneurs, techies, brain surgeons and artists all move to Shenzhen. Still, it will get me out of S-Meg Tower and away from the clutches of a certain Human Resources Manager.
Flicking through the South China Morning Post’s dismal City section, as I try to do once a month or so, I see a column called first person on a certain Scott Ligertwood, who apparently is ‘aka Scotty of the children’s entertainers Scotty and Lulu’ and is soon to leave Hong Kong after 12 years. “We didn’t realise we had so much impact on the people of Hong Kong,” says Mr Ligertwood. That makes two of us.
In the evening, to my horror, I find my deranged cousin Doreen from south Florida is in town, rehashing Hong Kong Government propaganda for her local newspaper as an excuse to try and track me down. Desperate to avoid her, I get out of Perpetual Opulence Mansions and join wild American friend Odell to celebrate the birthday of his Thai wife Mee. They bring with them another ‘gwai-Thai’ couple, plus a solo Thai lady called Chosita, who seems under the impression from Mee that I am a hot prospect, just desperate for a girl who will take my phone number and, in due course, worldly possessions.
We prowl Soho looking for a decent place to eat. Odell vetoes the first place we look at. “The music has castanets,” he announces, herding us away from the door. “I can't handle castanets.” We next try the new Venezuelan restaurant, which I dismiss on the grounds it has people in it – I want empty tables around me, not masticating, slurping riffraff. Finally, we settle upon an extremely fake French place. The escargots are just slugs, harvested from the park and crammed into recycled shells. The Thai ladies find them so delicious that they cease their chattering about the presence in town of Buddha’s finger and slurp them up. Their women happy, the two men apparently relax, but I know envy gnaws at them when they are in the company of a free man. They nudge me and wink, discreetly urging me to get to know Chosita. I luxuriate in my ability to be single and have my own life. I can feel they hate me for it. What a wonderful evening.
Fri, 28 May
Is it any wonder that the Hang Seng index jumped 2.5 percent to nearly 12,000 yesterday? The seminar I attended on how to solve Hong Kong’s long-term economic positioning problem resulted, according to the chairman’s summing-up, in proposals featuring implementable deliverables. Indeed, we had so many implementable deliverables that I put one in my jacket pocket when no-one was looking and took it home as a souvenir. I will have it stuffed and mounted, and display it in a glass case in my office, where it will enhance the feng shui.
Early afternoon, and I run to the newsstand on Queens Road to see if, by any chance, there is a copy of the latest edition of Spike magazine left. I am in luck – three hours after going on sale and there is still one unsold copy. I am not alone in spying it, however. A short, sweaty gwailo makes a move for it as I approach. We grapple for a minute before I produce my trusty can of Pepperguard and give him a whiff of the capsicum oil between the eyes. As he reels away moaning into the lunchtime crowd, I hand over my 25 dollars and take a quick look at the front cover. ‘Buddha’s birthday special – Beijing’s big gesture’ it reads, ‘HK gets the finger’. Writhing on the ground in mirth, I cackle and snort until I find my stomach aching and my bladder involuntarily and embarrassingly emptied. How do they think these things up?