Tuesday, February 01, 2011

From bad to verse

If you go down to Queen's Road in Central at lunchtime on a week day, you'll usually see ten or twelve bored security guards outside the Standard Chartered bank, standing around while an angry voice screeches at them in an infinite loop of pre-recorded Cantonese. This is because of all the money some people lost in 2008, which some of them think will be returned if they just deafen enough poorly-paid security guards.

As well as the tape of screeching, there are various decorations; mostly pictures of the boss of Standard Chartered, painted to look like the Joker from The Dark Knight, which brightens up the middle of my day no end. There's also usually a large black banner with, in white letters, the slogan "Give Us Back Our Money Please - We Are Chinese."

To be fair, it does say 'please', a rare concession to politeness in Hong Kong, and it does rhyme, but that doesn't really make for a persuasive argument about the possible liability Standard Chartered may have to some of its customers. And just because things rhyme doesn't mean they're right. I can't bowl down to the shops and say "I'm an Englishman, give me all the free stuff you can" and expect to be showered in freebies. And I don't think Beijing would like it if they got a diplomatic message reading
We're keeping the Sankaku Islands please,
We are Japanese.
Although to be fair, they wouldn't go with such a primitive AA rhyming scheme. They'd probably write a haiku:
Diplomats fail
To ward off angry dragon state.
Want islands? Piss off.
Explaining some of this to a colleague, we got onto the subject of limericks, which she'd never heard of, so I tried to give her an example but all I could remember was the man from Nantucket, and I had to stop before I got to the second line. Risky stuff, poetry.

I did think I should compose an epic verse, rhyming "Filipinos" with "not just a bunch of ho's" but like I said, that would be rather slack as it would be too easy to fall back into the AA rhyme scheme. Perhaps some iambic pentameter would be better:
I've lost all my money from you bastards!
Return my cash, you thieves, scoundrels and knaves,
Or I'll punch you in the cock.
Well, it's not as easy as it looks, I suppose. Maybe I should have been more impressed by the angry ladies standing outside Standard Chartered all day. Although again, somebody told me they were professional protestors, and if you can hire somebody to complain about all your money being taken away, I get confused about what happened to all your money. Perhaps it just seems more honest, more in touch with yourself to go to the bank yourself, put on a pollution mask and spend ten minutes banging a wooden spoon.

Then again, maybe those rumours about professional protestors are disinformation spread to make the bank seem like it's in the right. And if you had lost all the money you'd saved in your lifetime, maybe there wouldn't be that much else to do except yell outside your supposed nemesis.

But in rhyme? Where would you find the time?
If you thought you were getting your money back you'd be wrong;
But that's because you're from Hong Kong


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