Hemlock's Diary
The ravings of Hong Kong's most obnoxious expat
12-18 June 2005

Mon, 13 June
How much money will deranged anthropomorphs pay to see their noisy and unhygienic mutts alive again?  Eager to find the answer, I enlisted the help over the weekend of peculiar acquaintance A-Hing, the famous Mid-Levels Dog Poisoner, and took possession of a ridiculous-looking mutant canine.  It is incarcerated, as I write, in the storage room at the back of my apartment in Perpetual Opulence Mansions.  And, to my delight, the owners have already offered a reward for the repulsive-looking creature through an ad in the
South China Morning Post.  (Do they have any idea of that organ’s pitiful circulation figures?  This is a matter of life and death.  How extremely fortunate for them that this particular dognapper happens to be one of the few people who read it.)  Five thousand dollars is a laughable opening bid.  I will contact these absurd people and pass them a photograph of the brute with a copy of today’s paper, so they can see it is still alive, and my trusty 9mm Browning to its ugly, misshapen head.  I will demand 50 thousand, plus expenses for Purina Pooch Chunks and a gratuity to the Filipino elves, who are guarding the hideous monstrosity and making sure it doesn’t remove its blindfold.  Call the police, and the loyal domestic servants have aso adobo for supper faster than you can say ‘woof woof’.  Try haggling, and the next message will include the beast’s left ear and a final demand for 100 thousand in used twenties.  That will buy A-Hing a lot of carbofuran, and Hong Kong’s residential neighbourhoods some long overdue peace and cleanliness.
Tue, 14 June
I wake to the sound of knives being sharpened.  In the kitchen, the Filipino elves have reported for duty early.  As one yanks the duct tape from our captive’s muzzle so it can eat what may be its last meal, the other lays out an evil meat cleaver, heads of garlic and bottles of soy sauce, vinegar and oil.  “Adobong aso,” she declares.  “You were wrong yesterday.”  I quash this impertinence and presumptuousness quickly and firmly, by informing her that the cur stays alive for the time being.  A-Hing is in contact with the Peak anthropomorphs, who are pleading for the life of their unsightly hound on the grounds that it is ‘a part of the family’.  A part of the family who’s worth a mere 5,000 bucks!  How much would their grandmother go for?
STROLLING ALONG Lower Albert Road, I find the knife-sharpening noise actually becoming louder.  It is emanating from deep inside the Civil Service Bureau, which has had the uncharacteristic presence of mind to appoint Watson Wyatt to compare salaries in our bloated, overpaid, parasitic public sector with those in our clean-living, wealth-creating, self-reliant and parsimonious private one.  The very mention of the consultant’s name sets civil service union leaders frothing at the mouth.  It was Watson Wyatt who, in a 2003 survey for the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, uncovered the enormity of the civil service’s over-remuneration.  It was a time of pestilence and simmering popular rebellion in the Big Lychee, and the wimps of the General Chamber swept the shocking material under the carpet out of horror.  But the basic truth was out – insulated from deflation, competition, market forces, outsourcing and accountability to taxpayers, members of the world’s most arrogant civil service were being paid 200 percent in excess of (that’s in excess of) private-sector counterparts.

The spoilt, bed-wetting brats of the civil service unions will shriek that Woodrow Wyatt are drug-addled, devil-worshipping, child-molesting goat-fellators, when all the world knows they are mind-numbingly tedious accountants and actuaries, devoid of personalities, who have been performing
dull but worthy tasks for the Hong Kong Government for years.  The tragedy is that Donald Tsang, the ultimate civil servant, will soon be in the kitchen, instructing his underlings to put the knives away.  The dogs of bureaucracy need to be slit at the throat, hung up to bleed dry, eviscerated and butchered – but it won’t happen.  By how much would our taxes fall if the Government sent 100,000 back-office and paper-shuffling jobs to Shenzhen or Wuhan?  Or Urumqi?  Meanwhile, overstaffed, overpaid functionaries in need of empires to build, markets to interfere in, and projects to squander my money on decide to start running the Hong Kong computer game industry.
Courtesy, HK General Chamber of Wimps
Wed, 15 Jun
Gliding down the Mid-Levels Escalator through the Soho pretentious-slop-restaurant district, I mull over this morning’s message from A-Hing, the legendary Dog Strangler of Bowen Road.  The Peak anthropomorphs say they need more time to get the money together.  He has given them a deadline of midnight, tomorrow.  I see wild American friend Odell emerging from his hovel, and he joins me on the smooth descent into the central business district.  “I saw something really weird last night,” he tells me.  “A couple of Filipino women walking a dog with a black cloth bag over its head.”  I shrug, peer down at Fetish Fashion to see if any of their restraining devices would fit a mini schnauzer, and remind him that there are a lot of strange people around.  He agrees.  “They were very good, though,” he remarks.  “When the dog wanted to do its business, they unfolded a copy of the
South China Morning Post on the sidewalk.”  I should hope so, too.  “Kevin Sinclair’s column,” he adds.  I nod coolly.
AN IDLE afternoon in the gwailo’s lair on the 20th floor of S-Meg Tower, scouring the Internet for late-60s psychedelic and folk-rock bands.  Groups so obscure that even their former members have forgotten they existed.  Like Ill Wind, from Boston – a bit like the early Jefferson Airplane, or maybe The Seekers on mild hallucinogens.  I listen to their rendition of the Tim Rose classic Morning Dew – a less-innocent Where Have All the Flowers Gone? – and flick through the news.

What would it be like to appear on the front page of every newspaper in the Judaeo-Disney-Christian world?  It would be easy to find out.  Simply lean from the window and scream to the passing hordes below – “I won’t let little boys sleep in my bed!”  But the windows in this building can’t be opened.  A hinge and a handle – my global fame for a hinge and a handle.  What would it be like to live in a world with no Michael Jackson?  Again, it wouldn’t be hard to find out.  Re-legalize bear-baiting.  Let travelling shows exhibit deformed, bearded, female midgets again.  Bring back the old, fun family day out taunting inmates in the lunatic asylum.  We’d soon forget we ever needed him. 
Closer to home, we have our own bizarre spectacle – Sir Bow-Tie avidly courts nominations from the 800 extremely important members of the Election Committee.  “The answer is ‘yes’,” he assures them, “so what’s the question?”   The engineering and construction sectors ask if his administration will spend more taxpayers’ money on unnecessary infrastructure projects.  The IT sector, teachers, social workers and countless other vermin wonder if he can do something to magically create jobs for people in their trades who – for unfathomable reasons – can’t persuade anyone to employ them.  Grim-faced patriots holding their noses in the presence of this smug running dog of the British imperialists demand to know whether he will do the right thing and throw the Falun Gong, democrats and journalists into jail.  Faintly trendy academics and lawyers ask if he will defend human rights and civil liberties to the death.  Yes, yes, yes, yes.  Donald must be lying to at least some of them, which will surely not go unnoticed by another figure whose endorsement he humbly seeks – God.  The author of, among other things, one Ninth Commandment.  But, so far as I can tell, His mind drifted away, maybe out of boredom or despair, long ago.

Thurs, 16 Jun
I start the day by giving the two Filipino elves their hostage management instructions.  “First, stop addressing it as ‘Manlapaz’ or any other cutie-pie designation.  It is essential not to form any emotional bond with the internee.  Refer to it simply as ‘the dog’.  Second,” I point to a gallon of lemon-scented bleach and a scrubbing brush, “it’s stinking this storage room to high heaven – let’s give it a good wash before we get rid of it tonight.”  Which is how, by the time I leave Perpetual Opulence Mansions this morning, I find myself in possession of a canine so startlingly blond that it appears not to be of this world.  But it smells nice.
‘IT IS not enough to succeed, others must fail’.  Imminent leader of the Big Lychee Donald Tsang, having taken the Hemlock family motto to heart, gets his 700th (and counting) pledge from the Election Committee.  The other two contenders in this make-believe race are therefore non-starters – an outcome decided in Black Hair-Dye City last March.  Could Sir Bow-Tie have wished for more pitiful rivals?  It is hard to believe that the most dedicated and blatant match-fixer could assemble a sadder pair.  Chim Pui-chung, convicted of criminal charges in 1997, whose main policy proposal is that small-scale, inefficient stock brokers who made millions by exploiting former privileges, should be subsidized by everyone else for eternity.  And Lee Wing-tat, the tragic Acute Charisma Deficiency Syndrome victim, who heads a little-known group of extremely forgettable men in spectacles and suits known as the Democratic Party.  “The process was very smooth.” Given his popularity, experience and acumen, who can doubt that Donald will find all his challenges as Chief Executive to be this undemanding?
Fri, 17 Jun
The object of the exercise is to research the extent to which animal-lovers will make the sort of sacrifice that sane people would consider making only for humans – and maybe not all of them, even.  So it was with little hesitation that I tested our clients on the Peak and postponed last night’s mutt-for-money trade to a more congenial hour this morning.  The plan is simple.  At the appointed hour, A-Hing will tether the canine to a lamp post outside the Fancy Rich Property Agents on Caine Road and stand by.  An anthropomorph will then drop the cash – used, in small denominations, in children’s school bags – in a local kids’ play area and depart.  Two elves waiting nearby will confirm the contents to A-Hing by walkie-talkie and meld into the crowds on the Mid-Levels Escalator, struggling under the weight of the packs as far as a Filipino money changer-cum-launderer in Central.  A-Hing will vanish.
No sooner do I meet the famed pooch poisoner outside Perpetual Opulence Mansions than potential disaster strikes.  A black mongrel – the sort that goes well with black bean sauce and garlic – trots up to our hound and leaps on it from behind, sodomizing it with gusto and causing its blindfold to slip off, thus revealing our whereabouts.  As A-Hing lifts the assailant by its hind legs and delivers a fatal karate blow to its kidney, I drag our captive down the street.  I hand the beast back to him on a walkway over Caine Road and stand back to survey the scene.  A-Hing approaches the lamp post, ignores the ‘Wet Painting’ sign, and starts to fiddle with the leash.  At a crucial moment, the schnauzer spots its reflection in the mirrored wall of the property agency and – evidently neither recognizing nor liking the bleached and raped creature it sees – tears free and attacks itself, spitting, snarling and barking.  A-Hing, late middle-aged and not as nimble as he was, fumbles on all-fours.  The hideous hound jumps aside with a yelp.  A red Toyota pulls up, a passenger gets out and the driver flicks on the ‘For Hire’ sign.  Before the door swings shut, our hostage sprints over and leaps in.  As the vehicle pulls away, A-Hing staggers into the road, hails another cab and tumbles in, shouting “Follow that taxi!”   Meanwhile, a group of pasty-faced, traumatized Westerners – two adults, two children – come running along the sidewalk, dragging heavy Hello Kitty backpacks and screeching “Benji!  Benji!”  I glance at my watch.  It is time for work.
STROLLING THROUGH Central, I am dragged into the smiling and joyous crowds of Hongkongers dancing in the streets to celebrate the election of dashing and handsome Donald Tsang as Chief Executive Designate.  “We are tired of incessant political wrangling, worrying that it might take its toll on the economy,” we cheer.  “We hope that the SAR government can better its governance by strengthening the executive-led regime and steer the city back onto the right track of improving the economy and people's livelihoods.” 

Electoral Commission boss Justice Woo passes through the rejoicing multitudes of grinning schoolchildren, labourers, office workers and milkshake-sipping jurors from the Nancy Kissel trial, assuring everyone at great length that the election was conducted in an
open, fair and honest manner and was legal and effective.  I don’t recall anyone claiming otherwise – it’s not as if his ballot box management skills played a role.  No, people used terms like ‘farce’, ‘charade’, ‘embarrassment’, ‘joke’ and other words about which Woo is complacently silent.  Round and round we all twirl, as if on the grave of old Tofu-for-Brains, giddy with anticipation of the heightened level of governance, focus on economic development, improved labour market, harmonious society and increased public participation in politics that await us in the days of rapturous Rule By Bow-Tie.