Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I'm moving home soon, so I ended up reading the contract for my current tenancy. Some people might think that's the thing to do before you sign it, but this is the kind of devil-may-care lifestyle that I have.

The kind of devil-may-care lifestyle where you spend your spare time reading legal contracts that are about to expire.

There were some surprises in there. Not the boring stuff about the tenant being responsible for all the pipework in the flat or anything like that. No, I mean things like
He shall not use the premises as school, boarding house, nursery, bunk dormitory, bathing parlour, dancing lesson class, operatic training class, nor for any motordriven industrial purposes.
That strikes me as alarmingly specific. And what is stranger is that the contract is a standard, vanilla, off-the-shelf affair. It's not the kind of thing that was drawn up specially because my landlady had an irrational fear of dance lessons brought on through an upsetting episode involving The Nutcracker, a tube of toothpaste and some indoor fireworks.

And because this is standard Hong Kong boilerplate, it suggests that they're banning something which is fairly common behaviour. It's in the intricacies of a legal system that a nation's character is revealed, whether it's the misclassification of waterfowl for (possibly) sexual purpose, or the English prohibitions on having sex with fish. Or Hong Kong's hatred of motordriven purposes.

And opera. Or at least well-trained opera.

On the other hand, I suppose I should count myself simultaneously lucky and wasteful. All this time I could have been running an opium den, a techno club or a piggery, and yet I've not taken the opportunity to do any of these things. And I'm bound to find out when I check the contract for the place I'm moving to that although bathing houses, dance schools and operatic classes aren't banned, the sacred trifecta of a swine-raising, techno-blasting opium den will be denied to me.

Actually, I've just checked. And it looks like Pappa Jimmy's Big House of Pigs, Opium and Pounding, Pounding Techno could be a goer.

Not sure what the girlfriend is going to say.


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