Saturday, March 23, 2013


Sometimes it's the way things don't change which is the strangest.

I've got over Hong Kong failing to disintegrate without me. It's only really the first time you come back that you suffer the wierd disappointment of discovering that while you were away, not everybody's life was placed on pause, the way people manage without you being a final proof of your insignificance. Second time around, third time around you can start to rejoice that people are still there, that they can exist without you.

I haven't got over the air. Coming from Singapore, coming from Taiwan, the orange haze that smears across the night sky is strange and worrying, not a comforting light to welcome you home. It turns out that you forget about the dry stickiness at the back of your throat, the coughing, the clouds of black soot frothing out of the back of every bus. That's one of those thing you wish would change, but don't hold much hope for.

Another quintessence is the bloody-mindedness of landlords. There's a restaurant at the end of Elgin Street, a prime spot to fill people with booze and food for money, that closed due to a rent hike in 2009. Four years on, it's still vacant, a gloomy corpse of a building that nobody is paying the landlord for. There's now an advertisement banner across the upper floors, trying to attract a new tenant, but the artist's impression is a view of a tranquil and verdant garden, a few beautiful people stood in it, sipping wine. The closest that gets to reality is there's booze involved: I'm sure they'd have the space filled in a second if they cut the rent and put up a picture of two drunks falling into a taxi while eating a kebab. But no: I expect if we visit again in 2016, there still won't be anyone in there, the landlord still holding out for an increase in the rent they haven't been collecting. It won't change. But then maybe it's not the place for a British man to lecture a Hong Konger about property. Didn't we learn anything from the 19th century?

The other reliable unchangeable is the inappropriateness of slogans on t-shirts in Hong Kong. But that may be fussiness on my part. If a dumpy, middle-aged woman with a tight greasy perm wants to wear a baggy ultramarine shirt with 'GET ME DRUNK AND ENJOY THE SHOW' on it, that's her business. I don't know if nonsensical phrases are better or worse than slatternly examples of wishful thinking: is it better to be unrealistic or just have poor reading comprehension? I should have the courage of my convictions, wear a shirt saying 'WOULD ANYONE TELL YOU IF YOU WERE GETTING MORE STUPIDDER!' but I suppose my cowardice is one more thing that won't change.

Went to Wan Chai, went for a walk with a friend and his dog, went to comedy, went to bed. Where do we go? Where has the day gone? Where did all the other days go?


Post a Comment