Sunday, January 10, 2010

In need of sleep

I got up about ten, had a mellow morning rewatching The Big Lebowski, in preparation for reading the cod-Shakespearean Two Gentlemen of Lebowski. There are some magnificent jokes in the script - partly to do with the way that nationalities are changed to have some sort of consistency with Shakespeare's work, including the wonderful way that there's a character called Brother Seamus - an Irish monk. Whether you find that funny in itself or not will probably depend on whether you remember the dialogue when the Dude accosts the private investigator who has been following him - truly the whole thing is a work of joy to read.

Thus I was very relaxed when I got in a taxi and headed down to Staunton Street for brunch, at Scirocco, the only restaurant in Hong Kong that I know of that is named after a discontinued Volkswagen sportscar from the 1980s, the kind that was once crashed into the gates of Buckingham Palace by somebody who had driven all the way from Scotland. I like that sort of determination and true grit, and it's clear that somebody responsible for naming restaurants does too. Perhaps they felt that this story would inspire people to travel from afar in slightly impractical, uncomfortable conveyances, to smash themselves against ... a reasonably priced brunch menu? Well, maybe not, but it struck me as much more likely than the guff that one of my brunch companions was trying to sell me, that 'Scirocco' was a gentle Mediterrean breeze. Who'd be excited by a mild case of wind? That hardly sounds appetising.

Now, I think I've made the case before that brunch is not a proper meal for any right-thinking person. Breakfast is great, lunch and dinner too. In fact, breakfast is a wonderful enough meal that you'd be quite happy eating it three times a day (at least until you keeled over from a sausage-and-fried-egg inspired coronary) whereas brunch is an in-between thing, neither fish nor foul, neither breakfast nor lunch. If it was elevenses, and involved a strong cup of tea and a piece of cake, that might make sense. Or some tiffin, perhaps. But I wasn't too bothered. It was food, and it was food in my favourite restaurant named after a mid-1980s sportscar that I could think of.

[Hong Kong is of course a place full of people prone to exaggeration. People keep talking about going hiking when they mean having to walk for more than twenty minutes. Necessary elements of a hike are (a) a substantial risk of hypothermia, (b) the possibility of death by bear or wolf, (c) massive dehydration, (d) camels or (e) hobnailed boots and a piece of Kendal Mint Cake. None of these arise on a 'hike' in Hong Kong.]

But I was incredibly angry, and I don't know why. It wasn't the brunch, which was a serviceable Spanish omelette, or the company, which was an assortment of pleasant human beings. Yet I still wanted to pull somebody's head off and kick it down the street. What could bring that on?

Perhaps it was the couple at the table next to us, who sat for an hour smoking cigarettes, reading novels, and tapping away on their Blackberries. And never talking to one another. I wasn't sure if I was more annoyed by their smoking, or by their not engaging with one another in conversation instead of talking one another, or just being the kind of oddities that wouldn't stop being connected to the internet. Or I was filled with guilt and confusion at my rank hypocrisy, for all the times that I've been wasting my life checking my email when I should be having a conversation with the person I'm sat with. And possibly they were emailing one another, so my rage was entirely unfounded.

They could have stopped smoking though, so I could have enjoyed my meal in the open air on Staunton Street. In Hong Kong, a city famed for the cleanliness of its air. Or perhaps I could have asked them, but that would have involved human interaction, and I can't stand the idea of that.

Oh. To avoid further confusion, I went to the office for three and a half hours, and frustrated myself trying to make something work properly when it was a ruin from the start. You can't polish a turd. Not without ruining your chamois, that is. Perhaps I'll have something better to polish tomorrow. There is always the possibility of hope.


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