Hemlock's Diary
28 August-3 September 2005
Sun, 28 Aug
Despite my efforts to enjoy a healthy and wholesome afternoon, I meet up with wild American friend Odell for lunch.  He wants to welcome me back home with a good old traditional Hong Kong feast.  What can it be, I wonder.  Dim sum?  No.  Contaminated eel?  No.  Barbecued dog with lashings of garlic and ginger?  I salivate at the thought.  But no.  It is to be pasta and mashed potato with tuna.  Wolfing down this delicacy, which surely typifies the cosmopolitan character of the Big Lychee, I ask my ex-Mormon friend what happened to him last night.  I last saw him – briefly – at 9.00pm in Lan Kwai Fong.  He scratches his head.  This lunch, after all, is taking place at 5pm.  “Well I was in the Old China Hand in Wanchai, and I looked at my watch, and it was 8.30,” he tells me.  Impossible, I reply.  I saw him around 9.00.  He chews his fingernail for a few seconds – a sure sign we are getting to the bottom of a hideous truth.  “I thought it was evening, but then I saw it was daylight,” he tells me, looking up at me with his ridiculous no-fault-of-mine face.  He was out drinking right the way through to this morning, but he has no memory of any details.  His Thai wife Mee spent the entire night at a friend’s place gambling on cards, and is none the wiser.  I am tempted to say that they deserve each other, but I sink my teeth into another mouthful of rigatoni-mash-tuna and admire the tiny tomatoes arrayed around the plate.  Why cause more suffering in the world?
Mon, 29 Aug
In search of intellectually stimulating online discussion with fellow members of Hong Kong’s highly educated professional elite, I go to the
Icered message board, only to find that it is suspended while being absorbed by Ba8ua.com.  Apparently, each section of the old Icered – the Village, Nightlife, the Media forum, and so on – has to be dismantled into separate pieces, each of which must be wrapped in old newspaper and labeled before being packed into crates and transported from Central to the Ba8ua headquarters in exotic downtown Yuen Long in hi-fi-blaring trucks driven by young men with died ginger hair.  It will take a few more days before the old chat site is back up and running in its overseas educated, English-speaking glory.  In addition to Icered’s traditional Anglophone philosophical discourse, the new management promises users access to Ba8ua’s exciting services in the vernacular – horse-racing tips, advice on getting onto the public housing waiting list, opinion polls on the cutest-looking Canto-pop singer and special discounts on Hello Kitty products and acne cures.  And, of course, the infamous Adult Forum, whose members trade back issues of magazines featuring pictures of Japanese schoolgirls relieving themselves.  For the jet-setting yuppies who rarely venture beyond Lan Kwai Fong and yoga class, and for the toothpick-wielding lower orders across the harbour in their festering tenements and karaoke bars, it will be a window into each others’ worlds – not to mention a valuable contribution to our city’s social cohesion.
Tue, 30 Aug
A major traffic diversion causes long delays on the roads in northern Hong Kong Island this morning, as Government workers clear a huge pile of non sequiturs that slid down the hill from the Court of First Instance onto the streets.  Nancy Kissel slept alongside her husband Robert’s body for two nights, therefore she is
not guilty of murder.  He was into black gay porn websites, cocaine-fuelled sodomy and other normal, healthy investment bankers’ pastimes, therefore she is not guilty of murder.  She was helping to organize the United Jewish Congregation annual dinner, therefore she is not guilty of murder.  Her handling of pre-Dad’s-visit rotting-corpse- disposal issues was a tad inexpert, therefore she is not guilty of murder.  The Tai Lam Women’s Prison baseball team are in high spirits today.

Wed, 31 Aug
The morning gets off to a good start with the arrival of a charming, if murky, photograph taken outside Court 33 showing the highly civilized way in which prurient Hongkongers queue for a seat in the public gallery in order to drool over the distasteful and sordid drama of the Nancy Kissel trial.  Rather than stand in line, they place their bags of pink milkshake in a row leading from the door, and then sit on the nearby benches, squirming in onanistic anticipation. 

Similarly, who can fail to be impressed by the humanity displayed by the judge in his
summing-up yesterday?  “Ladies and gentlemen,” he began, “mindful as I am of the fact that you are too simple-minded to circumvent jury service, I feel it is my duty to remind you that it is hard enough as it is for caucasian women – even the relatively svelte and demure ones – to find a husband in this town without you making it legal for them to bludgeon men to death with sharp, heavy ornaments.”  A credit to Asia’s finest judiciary.
Thurs, 1 Sep
As delectable Administrative Officer Winky Ip delicately dusts the gleaming surface of her Foreign Correspondents Club congee with finely ground white pepper, I dollop manly quantities of coarse, fiery chili sauce onto my heap of steaming noodles.   When it comes to defending our boyish Chief Executive, however, hers is the more robust approach. “I think Donald’s doing brilliantly,” she coos. “Getting every single legislator
invited to the Mainland – even old Longhair!  Who would’ve thought it?  He had to argue with someone pretty high up to swing it.  Tung Chee-hwa would never have dared.” 

I am less enthralled.  “All he had to do,” I reply, “was point out that Hong Kong people roll around on the floor laughing when someone like Chen Zuo-er describes pro-democrats as subversives who threaten national security.  And conversely, if Beijing officials act like big grown-ups who don’t wet themselves at the thought that some people openly don’t agree with them, citizens of the Big Lychee will start to take them seriously.  The most pea-brained public relations floozy could tell them that.”  

Winky performs one of her special he’s-talking-rubbish-as-usual glances at her Chopard wristwatch, but – inspired by the spicy condiments on my
mein – I warm to my theme.  “Furthermore,” I continue, “it looks like his electoral reform package will be totally devoid of any actual reform.  Changes to the Election Committee are irrelevant.  We might as well scrap it because everyone knows the Chief Executive is appointed by Beijing, end of story.  And Legco will just get a few more seats, half of them representing yet more little interest groups trying to rip off taxpayers and consumers.  So no change there.  Where’s the reform?”

Winky is adamant that the constitutional package hasn’t been finalized yet. And don’t forget Sir Bowtie’s habit of managing expectations by leaking ‘bad news’ that turns out to be exaggerated.  What she doesn’t know is that I have already seen the list of new functional constituencies, complete with summaries of the policy implications.  I wave it in her face…
Bonesetters, Herbalists, Acupuncturists and Necromancers   Demand that Government close half of all public clinics and hospitals, to increase demand for medieval/voodoo medicine and create jobs

Karaoke Bar Owners   Demand that Government grant the sector a large parcel of prime land, which it can develop into luxury condos, raising funds to make Hong Kong into Asia’s amateur low-brow singing hub and create jobs

Mainland-Invested Companies    Demand that Government fund cross-border projects with their parent organizations to show its sincerity in promoting mutual cooperation, mutual integration and mutual lots of other things and create jobs

Northwest Kowloon Office Landlords   Demand that Government ask Beijing to force all major Chinese companies to locate at least one department in Northwest Kowloon to attract investment and create jobs

Plastic Flower Manufacturers    Demand that Government provide land, plant, 50-year tax holidays, access to labour from Niger and subsidized shipping to regenerate local plastic flower industry and create jobs
I tell Winky we’d be better off with little infants running this city.  Her eyes brighten up.  “Well,” she announces, “it’s funny you should say that!

Fri, 2 Sep
With the jury delivering a
unanimous verdict of let’s-get-home-for-dinner, Hong Kong’s trial of the century came to an end yesterday evening.  Strolling past an office block full of law firms this morning, I see a piece of paper being flung in apparent disgust from a window many floors up.  It falls at my feet, and I can’t resist having a look.  It is a print-out of an email…
From: Dr George Adams
To: Mr Alexander King, Defence Counsel, Liberty Chambers
Sent: Thursday, September 01, 2005 10:00 PM
Subject: Thank You

Dear Mr King,
Thank you from us all for working so hard in the interests of justice by representing this callous killer Mrs Kissel in the way she deserves. In your capable hands her lies quickly became transparent and her wicked mind was rapidly displayed for all to see.
A woman well into her eighties, one of our city’s admirably environmentally conscious senior citizens, stands expectantly nearby.  I offer her the bit of scrap paper, but she has her sights set on recycling a heavy brass corporate nameplate that workmen have prised off the wall of the building.  As she drags it away in a cardbox box, the labourers bolt a new one into place – NOT-AT-LIBERTY CHAMBERS. 

Wild American friend Odell strolls round the corner in his distinctive black uniform and boots.  “Do you know that ‘Nancy Kissel’ is an anagram of ‘icy lankness’?” I ask him.  He looks unimpressed.  “Or ‘inlays necks’?”  He waves these eerie coincidences aside, eager to tell me all about his work as Chief Guest Behaviour Management Artist at Hong Kong Disneyland, which opens on 12 September. 

“It’s amazing,” he says.  “We’ve been holding rehearsals for several weeks now, using thousands of real Mainlanders.  It’s just impossible for Cast Members – that’s staff – to get these hicks to stand in line.  They just don’t get it.  I caught one guy, a complete peasant, pushing his way to the front at Mickey’s PhilarMagic – that’s really popular.  I chased the bastard all the way past the Mad Hatter Tea Cups, up by Dumbo the Flying Elephant, through Fantasy Gardens Presented by Kodak, then round the back of Tarzan’s Treehouse, and into the Tahitian Terrace.”  I raise a quizzical eyebrow.  “That’s a restaurant,” he explains.  “It serves
cha siu and noodles.”  I nod.  “In an Adventureland jungle setting.”  Of course.
“So eventually,” the excited ex-Mormon continues, “behind the Cinderella Carousel, I catch the little prick – I mean ‘guest’, sorry – and he’s carrying one of those stupid little purse-handbag things those guys always have.  So I grab it, chuck it onto the ground, then I unzip my pants, take my little brother out, and – well, I just piss all over it.”  I stare at him in shocked silence for a few seconds.  He stands back and points his finger at me. 

“Wow – that’s exactly the look he had on his face!  But this is the way we have to do it – it’s the only language they understand.”  Odell pulls out a list of rules in English, traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese.  “See here,” he says…
We reserve the right … to deal with any unattended object in such way as we consider appropriate.
“That was what I considered appropriate,” he concludes with a shrug.  “When you buy a ticket and enter that place you sign away all your rights.  The United Nations, Amnesty International – they have no jurisdiction.  We can do anything to you.  Those Mainlanders’ll feel right at home.”  He puffs up his chest and slaps the electric cattle prod dangling from his belt.  “The Mouse rules.”