Saturday, April 17, 2010

Keep it down, lads

A friend is leaving Hong Kong this weekend to return to NYC, so he held a party in Bassment, a bar down on Lyndhurst Terrace.  It was a traditional Hong Kong expat party; a bar with a single barman trying to keep up with dozens of demands for booze, a sound system that pumped bass out hard enough to ruffle the hair on your head, and an inflatable plastic penis.

And, finally, with the arrival of the police to ask to keep the noise down, it attained its status as a proper Hong Kong social gathering.  No bar in Hong Kong can go on for long without a visit from a couple of annoyed looking men in blue shirts, dragged down by the complaints of somebody who can't stand the noise.

Although Hong Kong is a noisy place, and I do wonder why, if you live right on top of a bar in a district filled with bars, why you made the choice to be there.  If you didn't like the sounds of people being drunk and shouty, there were other places you could live.

Or maybe not.  If you moved to Happy Valley like me to avoid the constant din, you could still get woken up by the formidable bass from the karaoke joint three floors beneath me, which seems to use the flats immediately below mine as some kind of resonator, the better to pump loud Cantonese pop into my bedroom.  Not that I'd ever complain, as half the time there seem to be officious men with earpieces standing outside the karaoke bar, as though one of the patrons is somebody Really Important who should not be disturbed from his hobby.  Of disturbing my sleep.  But then everyone has to have a hobby, right?

I'd fled from the bar as the police were arriving - I wanted to get home and go to sleep watch a Jean-Claude Van Damme film.  I'm watching JCVD, and it supplies guilty pleasures (an opening five minute sequence of the eponymous Belgian kicking, punching and stabbing his way through a warehouse of victims) with the kind of knowing irony that allows you to enjoy the film while pretending you're not taking the whole thing seriously.

Well, at least it's not Steven Seagal.

(Although every time I watch a Seagal movie, I miss the first ten minutes, then spend the next half hour thinking this is an expert pastiche, satirising the ridiculousness of the ponytailed aikido wonderman, and then realise that it's not a satire, it's just Steven Seagal, with a beard.  Or a squeaky leather jacket.  Oh, the perils of tardiness and late-night movies on HBO.)

Sadly, in my rush to leave, I'd missed out on the policemen's reaction to the inflatable penis.  This was something I had wanted to observe.  Many years ago I'd been in a taxi in the Lake District, being driven with a friend to the Fighting Cocks, to see a Blues Brothers cover band play and drink enough to reduce myself to a quivering mess of humanity.  The taxi driver had thought a Blues Brothers cover band was a capital idea.  And then I'd piped up and said "yes, and half way through they lower a giant plastic penis from the ceiling."

The taxi driver said "you're in Arnside now" and never spoke another word.  He'd been quite garrulous up to that point.

I'm still not sure whether I'd offended him because of his attitude to giant plastic penii, or because I was a naive Southerner, who didn't realise that pubs in Arnside failed to be equipped with even the most basic lowering-plastic-penis-from-the-ceiling apparatus.  There wasn't a giant plastic penis in support of Blues Brothers 3000, and I never had the pluck to ask him, and I've not been back to Arnside since, so I'll never really know.  These are the mysteries that dog you.

Tomorrow I will try to research more carefully the outcome of the policemen's visit.  For now, I'm lying low.  Or taking my parents to the exciting tourist attraction that is the Wan Chai Computer Centre.  I'm such a good son, I really am.


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