Hemlock's Diary
The ravings of Hong Kong's most obnoxious expat
10-16 April 2005

Sun, 10 Apr
Another Sunday afternoon in a Wanchai disco dungeon with wild American friend Odell.  Amidst the gloomy boom-boom of the dance music, the usual, sad-looking middle-aged obese gwailo sexual predators rub shoulders and other body parts with lithe young Southeast Asian women.  Odell leans across his beer and asks me a blunt question – “How did the Pope catch the clap anyhow?”  At first, I am at a loss to answer.  “He died of urinary tract infection,” my ex-Mormon friend points out, “which as we all know is a euphemism for sexually transmitted ailments, right?”  I scratch my head and think back a few decades, when I had to learn the Catechism off by heart.  I ask him to consider how the Virgin Mary got pregnant.  “Oh, I get it!” he declares.  “The immaculate infection!”  Exactly.

I direct Odell’s attention towards a girl making simpering eyes at him from across the bar.  She has a nice-but-dim look, with straight black hair parted down the middle and a plain T-shirt and trousers.  “Oh, her,” he groans.  It emerges that she is a Thai hooker – though far less gross-looking than most of them – and he once paid her a sum of money in exchange for an hour of her company in a nearby short-time hotel.  But nothing happened because his wife Mee phoned him at a crucial moment and summoned him home.  “So this girl kind of thinks she owes me one,” he explains.  I am tempted to approach the harlot and suggest that she simply refund him her fee and therefore clear this debt.  Much as I like Odell, I would gladly pay millions not to have sex with him.  But apparently that’s not how it works.  After a tetchy call from his spouse at home, he agrees with me that it is time to leave.  So, around 8.00pm, we are sharing a taxi back to Mid-Levels civilization.  Soon after the cab accelerates away from the Sodom and Gomorrah that is Lockhart Road, I can’t help but notice that the strumpet in question is sitting between us in the back seat, smiling enigmatically while Odell drunkenly rants away about nothing in particular, seemingly oblivious to her presence.  I leap from the vehicle at some traffic lights in Central, like a World War II pilot bailing out of a burning plane hurtling towards certain destruction.  This could have a nasty ending.  I will read about it in the newspaper tomorrow.
Mon, 11 Apr
Lounging outside the IFC Mall branch of Pacific Coffee, ex-Mormon friend Odell sips his hazelnut biscotti and gingko latte and reads the latest issue of
All Man.  He looks up as I approach.  “Where did that crazy Thai girl come from last night?”  I give him a stupefied shrug.  Nothing to do with me.  “She tried to come back to my place,” he complains, shaking his head in disbelief.  “I said ‘do you want to live?’  Jeez.  If Mee saw her we’d both be dead.”  I sit down.  What is this slightly acrid smell in the air?  Why, it’s the odour of Hello Kitty being burned in effigy in Shenzhen, where anti-Japanese demonstrations have spread from Beijing and Guangzhou.  In sleepy Hong Kong town, meanwhile, the biggest news is a business merger.  The ridiculously named Chevalier iTech is buying this very chain of coffee places for 22 times the level of 2004’s earnings.  The owners of Pacific Coffee are smart – rent increases will wipe the profits out before long.  According to the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s local version of Starbucks was founded by one Thomas Neir, ‘who complained that he could not find a decent cup of coffee in the city’.  I raise my cup of hot, brown, water-flavoured liquid to my nose and take a sniff.  I detect not even the merest hint of roasted caffeine-laden bean.  No doubt my olfactory receptors have been deadened by the stench of Sanrio’s mouthless cat going up in flames over the border.
Tue, 12 Apr
Few things warm the heart so much as the death of a dog.  Especially a nasty little yappy one like the late Sha Sha, a shih tzu belonging to a Mr Oh and Ms Chin of Sai Kung.  Five years ago,
we are told, Sha Sha was brutally assaulted by Psycho, the vicious cur belonging to the neighbours, a Ms Richdale and Mr Yan.  It will not go unnoticed among Hongkongers, who are alert to such details, that this miscegenous couple’s deadly pet was a mongrel.  It seems Psycho grabbed Sha Sha by the throat one morning and whirled the terrified little animal in the air with sadistic glee before savagely leaping onto its tiny body and biting large chunks out of its stomach.  As Ms Chin and her other shih tzu, Muffin, watched in horror, Psycho eviscerated the diminutive canine and devoured its intestines with relish, leaving a pile of bones and rivulets of gore dribbling down Clearwater Bay Road.  Who needs Graham Masterton’s Eric the Pie?  Chin and Oh, who – like anyone who owns small, furry, noise-making vermin – were clearly mentally disturbed to start with, are now claiming damages of a mere HK$20 million for post-traumatic stress.  I am sure the Richdale-Yan family will agree that it would be worth every penny!
Wed, 13 Apr
The day gets off to a bad start with a phone call from one of the Filipino elves, informing me that she can’t come to Perpetual Opulence Mansions today because she has a kick-boxing class.  The other elf, she adds, is back in Cebu suing someone over a land dispute.  “A thousand apologies,” I solemnly tell her, “if you find that doing my washing and ironing cuts into your day and distracts you from martial arts training and real estate supervision.”

THE MOOD among Hong Kong’s industrious and virtuous middle class on the Mid-Levels Escalator this morning is one of gradual illumination, courtesy of Mr Chiu the lawyer, who attended yesterday’s
Basic Law seminar in Shenzhen.  “Reading between the lines,” he tells a group of us, “I get the impression that Beijing is basically saying this.  ‘Yes, we’re twisting the law.  We have our reasons, but let’s face it – a 2007 election suits just about everyone’s agenda.  Tung’s gone.  We’re giving you the guy you’d elect if we let you vote.  In fact, we might twist the law back again later.  So please, c’mon – enough of this stuff about principles.  Let’s just all play along and be happy’.  And I must say I’m half-tempted to agree.”  We nod and glide down the hill towards enlightenment.  Tung’s gone.  What more do we want?
Thurs, 14 Apr
Pulling my trousers up over my firm, muscular legs after showering and tooth-brushing, I ask myself the regular morning question – ‘what slogan shall I display on my
Scrolling Belt Buckle® today?’  I decide on ‘James Tien for Mensa Chairman’, in honour of the slimy and unprincipled Liberal Party chief’s decision not to run in the forthcoming Chief Executive election on the grounds that everyone hates him.  What sort of heartless brute can fail to feel a twinge of sympathy for this opportunistic and shallow nematode?   It would take a herd of obese 15-year-olds from Ying Wah Girls’ School to tether his helium-filled intellect to the ground.  Any of us could have been born like that.

According to a report on the radio this morning, scientists using the latest electron and x-ray diffraction technology believe they might have detected James Tien’s integrity.  It’s amazing what they can do these days.  Even more unthinkable until recently, members of the DAB are now coming out and reciting, with perfectly straight faces, ‘Donald Tsang would make a really, really wonderful Chief Executive’.  The words must taste bitter.  Sir Bow-tie can only be enjoying this.  I’m enjoying it.  How can any right-minded person not delight in the
frisson, the schardenfreude, at seeing years of DAB loyalty, patriotism and shoe-shining rewarded with a kick in the teeth from their beloved Beijing?  And who can fail to be impressed by their obedience and willingness to take more?  There is a PhD thesis somewhere here – United Front tactics as sado-masochism.

Fri, 15 Apr
The rising sun casts its first rays over the Mid-Levels as Polly the lipstick lesbian sits on a large packed cardboard box on Hollywood Road, beneath the Escalator.  She waves as I approach.  “T-shirts and banners,” she announces.  “For the march on Sunday.  They have anti-Japanese slogans on them.”  When I ask what the slogans say she gives me an amused shrug.  “Actually, I don’t know!  I haven’t looked.”  She examines the box for a clue.  “I think they have photographs of Japanese soldiers committing atrocities against civilians.”  They threw babies in the air and caught them on bayonets, in what the latest Japanese school text books now call an ‘incident’.  Beijing whitewashes history too, but then Polly has never missed a June 4th vigil.  Full marks for consistency. 

Something from the past comes to my mind.  “Do you remember back in the late 80s or so, that crazy Japanese girl who used to approach Japanese tourists arriving at Kai Tak Airport?  She waited outside the arrivals hall wearing a ballroom gown, and went up to these people and handed out leaflets describing what Japan had done in the war.”  Polly slowly nods as the weird memory comes back.  The girl had left Japan, learnt about her country’s war crimes and never recovered from the trauma.  Like
Iris Chang, a victim of evils that happened before she was born.

THE WEEK should end on a brighter note – and so it does, with the joyful news that A-Hing the Mid-Levels Dog Strangler seems to be
back in action.  Serving up his classic recipe of chicken a la carbofuran, this people’s hero dispatched a black labrador answering to the name of Casper on Wednesday.  According to the South China Morning Post, the deranged anthropomorph who owned the mutt thinks A-Hing should be poisoned too.  Do dog owners have the faintest clue about how anti-social and selfish they are?  Perhaps all canines should simply be banned throughout Hong Kong, save for one district – Lamma Island, say – where their adoring two-legged friends could spend their days wading around up to their knees in stinking, fly-infested excrement and lie awake all night delighting in the incessant, mechanical yapping and barking that these repulsive, selectively bred mutants inflict on the human race. 

I feel inspired to treat myself to lunch in Shenzhen tomorrow – a 26-renmibi plate of meat that is steaming, juicy, tender, seasoned with ginger and black bean sauce, and never going to bark again.