|The ravings of Hong Kong's most obnoxious expat
31 July-6 Aug 2005
|Sun, 31 Jul
Strolling past the pub in Lan Kwai Fong in the late afternoon, I spot a meeting of the Hong Kong Association of Gwailos Married to Southeast Asian Women of Humble Origins. Wild American friend Odell is there, his two-syllable name adding a touch of class to the mainly British congregation of Daves, Johns, Dougs and Jacks. They invite me to buy a round of drinks (or ‘join them’, as they put it) and I accept in gleeful, morbid anticipation of tales of self-inflicted suffering.
One of the Johns takes me to one side. I’m single aren’t I? His wife has a friend who’s a lovely girl. Wouldn’t I like to meet her? An alarm bell goes off in my head. A millstone is in search of a neck. I decline. He will later tell people he thinks I’m gay. I couldn’t care less what they think. I sit down at the table.
One of the Daves announces an unusual woe. When he married several years ago, his Filipino wife insisted on having their wedding photos blown up into huge five-foot by three-foot displays, mounted on plastic boards and emblazoned with their names in gold lettering. To throw these precious and tasteful keepsakes out of their tiny apartment in the Lantau leper colony of Mui Wo would be unthinkable, but Dave had managed to store them down the road on Jack’s roof. Recently, Jack’s wife had taken pity on a pair of homeless Filipino lesbian friends, and offered them use of the roof as a place to stay. But it’s the rainy season. It now seems that the two girls have contrived a shelter out of the handiest sheets of waterproof material they could find. Jack looks up from his beer and nods glumly. “They’ve made a house out of Dave’s wedding photos,” he confirms. The talk among the wives is now of revenge. Eager to be helpful, I suggest death by elephant. But apparently the plan is to inform the Immigration Department of the visa-overstaying roof-dwellers.
There are more men who have married and wish they hadn’t than there are men who never married and wished they had. A good thing – the former are far more entertaining.
|Mon, 1 Aug
On the 20th floor of S-Meg Tower, I sit in my lair and count down the days before I embark on the Filial Piety Tour 2005. I need to check my US Dollar and Pound Sterling accounts on the HSBC website. In goes the username, and then the secret password. But wait! The magic black box that generates a single-use code number is at home. Without it, I can’t use this miracle of modern technology. For the lack of a small plastic gizmo, the system suddenly turns from fast and convenient to non-existent. Solutions to all my banking needs, formerly just a click away, have been ruthlessly snatched from me. I am helpless. Fortunately, two 19th Century inventions – the telephone and the domestic servant – come to the rescue. I call Perpetual Opulence Mansions and find that one of the Filipino elves is present and performing the chores, no doubt in her usual amiable but unhurried fashion. “It’s a small oval black thing with a button and a little screen,” I tell her. “It should be next to the computer.” She knows it. In fact, she has been ‘playing with it’, she admits. I instruct her to play with it one more time and read out the number. As I put the phone down, a flash of inspiration suddenly reveals the truth to me. Obviously, we’re supposed to give these contraptions to our maids to look after. Why didn’t HSBC make that clearer when they issued the devices?
|Tue, 2 Aug
Should someone remind Nancy Kissel’s defence lawyers that we no longer have the death penalty in Hong Kong? That might assuage their determination to send their client to the gallows. If they are to be believed, she saw Robert Kissel walk out of their flat on 2 November 2003 after drinking a milkshake laced with enough sedatives to knock out a rhinoceros. Unobserved by her, he then sneaked back in and entered their bedroom, where he bludgeoned himself with a heavy metal ornament, rolling himself up in a carpet before the effects of his crushed skull took their deadly toll. A few days later in the blood-spattered room, Ms Kissel thought, “Gee, there’s a rolled-up carpet smelling of rotting flesh – I guess I’ll put it into that storage room I rented recently.” Alternatively, a person or persons unknown might have performed the bludgeoning and carpet-rolling bit. The key point is, Nancy could not in any way have done it. How do we know? We’re not going to tell you – you’ll just have to trust us on that. Oh by the way, like most people at Merrill Lynch, Robert Kissel was a violent, drug-crazed sex fiend. How does that prove that she did not wield the murder weapon? We’ll get back to you on that. Meanwhile, will members of the jury please stop giggling and running their fingers across their throats?
|Am I alone in having somewhat impure thoughts about the coquettish Minnesotan – a vulnerable widow, clearly in need of a protective arm around her shoulder, reassuring whispers in her ear and tender guidance on how best to manage the life insurance payout? Then again, she has had anal sex with an investment banker. And there’s her taste for working class TV repairmen. A combination sufficiently distasteful to assuage the ardour of the most sympathetic admirer.
Sesame Street was brought to you today by the word ‘assuage’.
|Wed, 3 Aug
To celebrate my last day in Hong Kong for a few weeks, I am treating myself to a civilized debate with ‘Objectivist rather than a libertarian’ Simon Patkin on the subject of parks. He feels we have too much green space, and more concrete would be nice...
|Concrete is good and helps build more places to live and work. With so much green space already (around 70% of Hong Kong is parkland not living and working space), we need to concrete Lantau and Lamma so as to lower population density. This way families can have bigger places to live and we can have offices larger than shoeboxes. Harbour reclamation will also help.|
|My only problem with parks is that they tend to attract children and, in the case of Victoria Park, gangs of young Indonesian women who lie in wait, pounce on innocent male passers-by and drag them off into the trees, where they perform acts of unspeakable depravity on them. Otherwise, I wouldn’t say no to more greenery in central urban areas. At the same time, it is undeniable that our industrious, taxpaying, disenfranchised middle class need more spacious homes.
The solution to me seems obvious. First, we take a meat cleaver and chop up all redundant, overpaid civil servants into little pieces. It is the need to pay their bloated salaries, pensions and allowances that drives the Government to sell prime waterfront and urban sites to raise revenue. Without the public-sector leeches, we can have more downtown parks. Second, despatch the unskilled, unemployed and generally indigent across the border, where they can find factory jobs and enjoy a lower cost of living. As an incentive, they may take the dismembered bureaucrats with them for use as feed on their cousins’ pig farms. We can then redevelop the slums and public housing estates into decent-sized homes for our productive and clean-living bourgeoisie.
Perhaps this is the difference between Objectivists and Realists, like myself – the former identify problems, while the latter have the sensible, workable solutions.
BAGS PACKED. Diary packed, but with so many scintillatingly senile relatives to visit, updates may be few and far between.