Friday, May 06, 2011

Mad dogs and Englishmen

As well as going out in the noonday sun (to buy a vaguely repulsive sandwich from Marks & Spencer) I went to the noonday gun, for the first time in my life. I guess paying homage to Noel Coward is either something you do as soon as you arrive in Hong Kong, or else you put it off for three years.

To get to the noonday gun, you go through the underground car park of the Excelsior Hotel. This looks about as shady as it sounds: you wander down the backside of the hotel, past a 'monk' busily begging for change (although it's not a busy thoroughfare, so he can't have the fierce business acumen of the 'monks' in Central). A door is ajar next to a creamy perspex sign for the Noonday Gun! and when you go through that, down some steps and along a corridor, you emerge into ... a car park.

Steeling yourself, you follow some more haphazard signs until you're walking through a tunnel filled with enormous green pipes and the smell of the sea, and then just when you worry that you're in a leftover Doctor Who set from the Seventies, it's up another set of stairs to the waterside.

At this point I should go on about the historic wonder of the gun, and what a great tradition it is to fire it each day, but I arrived at 6:15 in the evening, by which point the gun is fenced off, locked up and sheltered under a tightly wrapped tarpaulin, which may serve as a metaphor for any British expats living in Hong Kong, or just shows there's a time and a place for things, and sometimes that requires giving up your lunch hour for the greater good.

Having spent my lunch hour eating a hummus sandwich and four (four?! It's not even Easter any more) hot cross buns, that wasn't me, although I'm now filled with excitement, considering planning a kung fu epic filmed solely in the tunnel under Gloucester Road, and featuring only actors who don't mind the smell of seaweed. You may scoff, but they all laughed at Christopher Columbus.

And he's dead.

Ok, bad example. But going to see the noonday gun from Central will cost you the princely sum of four dollars and fifty cents, and the same to get back (that's all MTR fees, the gun itself is free) so it's 4.5 times as expensive as the Great Tram Ride from Sunday. But I don't think Mr Coward ever composed a song about the tram...


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