Hemlock's Diary
The ravings of Hong Kong's most obnoxious expat
17-23 April 2005

Sun, 17 Apr
Police vans take up positions outside Sogo department store in Causeway Bay.  More stand vigilantly outside the Nissan showroom on Gloucester Road in Admiralty.  There is probably an armed cop guarding over the sashimi counter in the Wellcome supermarket in Robinson Road.  My tax dollars are hard at work today, protecting manifestations of Japanese influence in Hong Kong, though the idea in 2005 of our civilized, gentle people emulating their uncouth and pliable Mainland cousins and smashing windows in an anti-Japanese riot is unthinkable.  Don’t spend all the overtime at once, you people in those Mercedes vans with lights on the roof that aren’t flashing and sirens that aren’t wailing.  Or work too hard.  According to Polly the lipstick lesbian, there are some seriously hot women police officers patrolling the march, but all she emailed me was this lousy shot of a banner blathering about the Diaoyutai Islands.  Am I alone in remembering the time then-Chief Secretary Anson Chan casually referred to them as the Senkaku Islands?  The sharp intake of breath still echoes in my mind.  So… this is a Sunday when Asia’s finest preserve law and order on the streets of the Big Lychee in large numbers.  Patriots protest Japanese denial of evildoing – as does my father, refusing for six decades now to buy anything made by Sony, Toyota et al.  And I retreat to Perpetual Opulence Mansions and indulge in depraved, dirty and disgusting acts that are of no consequence and anyway, unfortunately, time does not permit me to record.
Mon, 18 Apr
It’s not the bullet that kills you, it’s the hole.  Even Laurie Anderson’s jaunty little song can’t make me feel a little less fragile this morning.  I am haunted by the ghosts of last night’s excesses – a throbbing head and a strong disinclination to do any work.  Can I make the effort to raise my head and look out of my window on the 20th floor of S-Meg Tower?  There is usually something inspiring, and maybe healing, to see.  It might be a black kite soaring between the skyscrapers on the warm air rising from the city.  It might be a billowing plastic bag, gently wafting past the tower blocks.  Straining to raise my eyes, I behold two men standing on the other side of the glass, as if this is the ground floor, rather than 200 feet up.  They are Nepalese window cleaners, suspended in their ‘gondola’ and secured by safety harnesses.  They give me a cheerful wave, and I try to reciprocate.  They get a wave, at least.  I glance down at my desk, only to see a newspaper article quoting the Democrats’ boss Lee Wing-tat as saying he is forming a ‘shadow cabinet’ to show that his pitiful excuse for a political party “…is competent enough to devise effective policies and govern Hong Kong.”  A prospect as preposterous as it is stomach-churning.  And now the phone is ringing.  At 100 decibels.
CRUSTY OLD-SCHOOL journalist and Hong Kong national treasure Kevin Sinclair startles me back into crystal-clear sobriety with his article in the latest edition of The Correspondent, the Foreign Correspondents Club’s immensely riveting magazine.  The great man claims to have been libeled on the Icered Internet message board, where a thread described a fight in the club foyer between him and PR guru to the gentry Ted Thomas.  (He’s still alive?  I learn something new in every edition of this thing.)  Kevin decides to share with fellow FCC members the benefit of his opinion on the perpetrators.  “…hapless morons … clammy-palmed posters … [when asked for identities of posters] the management of Icered.com slinks off into a rat hole … the scurrilous venom of the media section … the very antithesis of journalism … an electronic loudspeaker on which the sneaky, the dishonest, the cowardly the malicious, and the downright insane can broadcast the most vile lies about anyone, anytime, with no restraint, hindrance or control.”

He exaggerates – it’s not
that good.
Tue, 19 Apr
Flicking through the news, I spare a quiet moment’s thought for Singapore.  For years, the city state’s central planners have squandered its people’s wealth on incentives to keep refrigerator factories and other futuristic, high-tech industries from relocating to China, where they would be economically viable.  Thus, beneath its polished public-relations veneer, the Lion City now faces ruin.  While market-driven economies like Hong Kong, the US or the UK have happily let dirty and tiresome manufacturing activities move to the Third World, Singapore – like continental Europe – clings to its widget-producing past.  It is only a matter of time before they are reduced to slaughtering the livestock in the zoo.  “But wait!” say the plucky little republic’s visionary leaders.  “It might be shameful and humiliating and scraping the bottom of the barrel, but it’s worth a shot – let’s
prostitute our city out to corrupt Chinese officials who want to gamble in tacky casinos and swagger around the streets spitting everywhere, like in that seedy dump, Macau.” 
Who will be the first politician in Hong Kong retarded enough to demand that the Big Lychee follow suit in casino-building ‘in order to remain competitive’ with Lee Kwan-yew’s pathetic experiment in Confucio-socialism?  I give my crystal ball a quick polish and stare into it.  The slimy, unprincipled, economically illiterate visage of Liberal Party boss James Tien shimmers in the glassy orb.

Wed, 20 Apr
What sort of despicable brute
publicly humiliates a harmless old gentleman by asking our no-nonsense Legislative Council to query his academic qualifications?  People have no feelings these days.  Another scurrilous knave brought the intriguing educational credentials claimed by much-loved Legislative Councillor Dr the Hon Philip Wong, JP, GBS to my attention in October, but I kept the lurid details to myself, not wanting to distress this elegant and kindly senior citizen, who wishes no more than to have the occasional drink and practice his proctological technique.  First Kevin Sinclair, then James Tien, and now Dr the Hon Wong.  Will there be no end to this impudent disparaging of our finest public figures? 

Next in line for this odious treatment will no doubt be Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, who has been elected Pope, taking the name Benedict XVI.  Benny – as we lapsed Holy Romans will be entitled to call him – has already drawn criticism for his ‘conservative’ views, as if a Pope is supposed to be some sort of trendy, tree-hugging, dope-smoking libertine.  Others are complaining about his ethnic and sexual similarities with 15 Benedicts and countless others before him.  In fact, the Vatican City’s equal opportunities and workplace diversity department wanted a wheelchair-bound, black Jewish lesbian – but what can you do if none apply?  After several decades of limp-wristed, Koran-kissing moral equivalence, people will once again know where they stand with the Mother Church, thanks to Ben’s ‘back to basics’ approach – burning Protestants, putting Muslims to the sword and gouging the eyes out of people who believe the Earth goes round the sun.  He’ll knock a bit of respect into insolent churls the world over.

Thurs, 21 Apr
The morning gets off to a delightful start when the IFC Mall branch of Pacific Coffee serves me my organic wheat germ, sandalwood and mango cappuccino in a Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club mug.  According to the serving wench, these are not
authentic items, but pirated copies from Shenzhen – just 5 Renmibi each.
Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

Romans 9, 21
I am also satisfied to see that my powers of prediction remain as sharp as ever, and oleaginous idiot savant James Tien has called for the Government to open a casino “…to sharpen Hong Kong’s competitive edge and create jobs…”  It is one of life’s endless amusements to watch this public policy dwarf strutting about, imagining himself to be a real, grown-up politician.  He could call for deregulation of land supply, zoning laws and building use, to allow thousands of new enterprises to flourish.  He could call for antitrust legislation, to curb cartels and cut business costs.  He could call for new immigration policies, to bring in more talent and skills, and fewer unemployable peasants.  He could call for ownership of all public housing units to be transferred to their tenants, turning our welfare-addicted lower orders into middle-class home owners overnight.  But no, James can’t think beyond a simple, lame proposal of no economic consequence copied from losers like Singapore and Macau.  No doubt it will happen, especially if the rumours are true and Liberal Party vamp Selina Chow becomes Minister for Home Affairs – the bureau that looks after ‘youth’, culture, brown people and, of course, gambling.  And why not?  What could be better than morons keeping my taxes low by gambling their money away?

AN EMAIL from Walter W Wilde Esq in Lam Tin Valley, where he remains in office as Hong Kong’s last colonial district commissioner and the residents live in blissful ignorance of the change of sovereignty in 1997, fanning him with banana leaves and singing
God Save the Queen.  He has had a startling – maybe divine? – flash of inspiration…
The former Cardinal Ratzinger, newly elected Pope, is renowned as an arch-conservative.  He has even publicly denounced rock music as the “vehicle of anti-religion”.  In view of his uncompromising opposition to birth control, I suggest henceforth we refer to him as “Eggs” Benedict.
Fri, 22 Apr
As the dawn’s early light streams into Perpetual Opulence Mansions, I wake to find that a gorgonzola-fuelled night of fitful sleep has left me hanging over the side of my bed and staring down at the floor.  It occurs to me that while I am in this position, I might as well take the opportunity to inspect the area beneath the trusty queen-size – it would be the first time in years.  So I lean down a bit further and take an upside-down look at this rarely seen part of my bedroom.  Not a trace of dust.  The diligent Filipino elves are cleaning the space regularly.  All I can see, apart from shiny lacquered oak tiling, is a box next to the wall under the headboard.  I slide out of the bed onto the floor, reach under and pull it out.  It all comes back to me.  It is the remaining seven of a dozen copies of
Loving the Self-Absorbed: How to Create a More Satisfying Relationship with a Narcissistic Partner by Nina Brown.  I used to leave a copy on the bedside table for women to read late at night while they were waiting for the damp patch in the sheet to dry.  Then it struck me that ‘more satisfying’ meant ‘more clinging’, so I consigned the volumes to the dark wilderness below and forgot them. 

Flicking through the book, I still admire the author’s insight and wisdom.  ‘Give up the fantasy that the partner will change’.  Absolutely.  ‘Avoid confronting the partner to meet your needs.’  Quite so – give him a break.  ‘Shape more realistic goals for yourself and the relationship’. Yes, exactly – get real!  ‘Employ emotional insulation or boundaries to ward off the person’s projections and your own triggered feelings.’  Whatever.  ‘Avoid empathizing; it will not be reciprocated’.  Too true.  ‘Withdraw from the struggle, conflict and battle of wills’.  Indeed – life’s too short. 

That miracle of modern technology, the radio that switches itself on in the morning, chooses this moment to spring into life.  RTHK3 are playing a Government public interest announcement.  A woman with an Essex accent nags her browbeaten boyfriend mercilessly to hold the handrail on the bus.  He is too numbed to hear.  When the bus brakes suddenly, he falls down.  She leaps at the chance to crush what is left of his spirit by mocking him.  As a cheerful voice-over tells us to be safe on busses and hold handrails, I resolve to send the radio station a copy of Nina Brown’s tome to forward to this spiteful creature. 

‘DAWN’S EARLY light’.  Didn’t Francis Scott Key know a tautology when he saw one?