Update from Hemlock

In the slightly dusty, faded Formica splendour that is Yuet Yuen Restaurant on the seedy edge of Central, Administrative Officer Winky Ip – no younger than she ever was, but voluptuous always – wraps a tissue round her finger and prods the grimy jar of chili sauce across the table to me, then examines the oil-smudged napkin for a brief second before discarding it.

“So,” I ask her, “what are you urging the public to do these days?”

She gives her congee a stir and puts on her best look of mock-exasperation. “Where do I begin?” she declares. “This is a job that just never finishes!”

And, she complains, it is a thankless task. There was a time, she recalls, when Hong Kong’s population was innocent and pure and eager for guidance from caring and wise civil servants.

“But today they just don’t pay attention. We held a Sustainable Green Quality Lifestyle Family Fun Day last weekend, and only a few old people turned up. And they were just after free cookies. I’m still looking for an Anti-Nose-Picking Campaign Ambassador – we’ve tried Jackie Chan, Bobo Chen, you name it, but they’re not interested. And now we’ve got to whip up SAR-wide enthusiasm for the…” She pauses and looks away for a few seconds while rummaging through the filing cabinet of her mind. “…the Fourth All-China Games!  It’s the first time Hong Kong will send a formal delegation. It’ll be in Hefei, which is in, um… Didn’t you see all the reports about the Flag Presentation Ceremony yesterday?”

She gushes about the event, at which Home Affairs Secretary Tsang Tak-sing and sports supremo Timothy Fok posed in their gleaming white Team Hong Kong blazers alongside our valiant young athletes.

I have to admit that I was too busy celebrating the 10th anniversary of World Intellectual Property Day.

“Well,” she explains, “the first thing we have to do now is choose a cartoon-style mascot, and a special slogan. Then we’ll have a theme song, performed by all our favourite local stars. Then we’ll print 20,000 huge plastic banners and hang them up on railings everywhere. Then we’ll start the hundred days countdown, and large numbers of schoolchildren will wave flags by the road as the sacred All-China Games flame comes through town.”

I hold my hand up to calm the excitable bureaucrat down and ask an important question.

“Is it an inestimable privilege for Hong Kong to be invited to take part?”

Winky freezes. There is a look of alarm in her eyes.  “I… I’m not sure,” she eventually says. “I’ll have to check.”

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25 Responses to Update from Hemlock

  1. Olympic says:

    Those Hong Kong Olympic Games in full:

    Queue Jumping
    Buck Passing
    Pushin’ and Shovin’
    Wheelin’ and Dealin’
    Moanin’and Groanin’

    Any new ones?

  2. Bigot says:

    First to enter MTR race;
    MTR pole climb/embrace;
    MTR door-mouth dash;
    Wrestling in public transport vehicles;
    Target spitting at public litter bins;
    Elevator “close-door” button pushing (before touch-down by next approaching person).

    Next.

  3. Sir Crispin says:

    Fastest property flip
    Highest speculation profit

  4. chanboy says:

    To be fair, Timothy Fok has done something for HK with Olympics and all. But he has failed to do much for the local professional sports scene. The problem of a lack of opportunities for local atheletes remain. And I fear this will not change when Fok’s playboy son takes the helm. Someone who is more interested in getting laid with the ladies then running the local sports scene? I don’t think that bodes well for Hong Kong sporting’s future.

  5. isomoliu says:

    Closing door dash without touching germ-infested door handles
    Patience game waiting for person on other side of door to open door first
    Stuffing the most used tissues in taxi door handle alcoves

  6. Maugrim says:

    Endurance events:

    Queuing for something that is free, irrespective of whether it is useful or not. who can stand in line longest?

    Coupling some middle-class residents, their child and a domestic helper. How much can the helper carry as she comb’s the chilld’s hair on the way to the school bus?

    Toilet paper is on sale at 10 cents less normal price. who can dash the fastest to the store and carry the greatest amount home?

    Five International school students, $100, a gutter in Wanchai and the beer fridge at a 7/11. who can survive the longest?

  7. Maugrim says:

    Time based events:

    For a mini bus to travel from to and from Tsuen Wan to Central and back as many times as it can in 30 minutes.

    An Expat has one hour to brab a kebab at Ebenezers in Wanchai, grab a beer at the wharf, one for the DB ferry and consume two more around a rubbish bin landside.

    Four Utilities have to dig up and then repair the same stretch of road/footpath, one after the other as often as they can in three months.

    Strength based tasks:

    How far away can a person shouting into a mobile phone on a crowded bus be heard?

    How many tissues taken from Maxims et all can a see lai carry in her handbag at any one time?

    Stealth:
    Successfully bring your dog through the lobby in a flat that bans pets

    How many flats can you visit to canvass pay TV after 10.00pm?

    How many tissues and other goodies can you throw from your flat before you are punished? extra points for blaming your Amah.

  8. oddsox says:

    I don’t think we need any snide expat ridiculing of locals, some of the authentic “sporting” categories are interesting enough – I don’t even know what some are: aeromodel [?], billiards, body building, bowling, bridge, Chinese chess, dancesport, go, golf, health qigong, life saving, lion dance, marine modelling [?], orienteering, rock climbing, roller sports [?], shuttlecock, squash and water skiing. Explanations (including speculative ones) would be welcome. It generally doesn’t sound as though a lot of athletic vigour is required for a sizeable number of the events.

  9. paul says:

    dash off the aeroplane
    sprint to the customs counter
    jumping red lights

  10. David says:

    “it gathers top athletes from all over the country”. I never knew that athletics includes Chinese chess, Go, aeromodel(ling), bridge and marine modelling.

  11. Olympic says:

    Thanks for all the new insights. I think ought to mention that many people in Hong Kong put down ‘ sleeping’ and ‘shopping’ as hobbies. Perhaps they could also join the sports category?

  12. N8Ma says:

    The link to “public urged” on the HKGov website counts as an epic WIN.

    Timothy Fok represents a bizarre FC. The Hong Kong Philharmonic is supposed to have the same representative as the local Asian Games sub-committee or whatever?

    Culture should have its own representative in LegCo, separate from sport.

    And, actually, maybe FCs shouldn’t be abolished at all. In other democracies, all of these “various sectors” lobby like mad to get what they want, in HK it’s at least blatantly out in the open–the teacher’s union doesn’t have to fill a certain Senator’s campaign coffers to get the vote they desire, they have their own Senator! Same with construction, insurance, lawyers, medical professionals, trade unions, etc. etc. If the FCs could be altered so that their voting lists were more democratic, you’d have a situation where every working HKer would get to vote twice–once for the are in which they live, and once again for their profession. Why not?

  13. Virgil Tibbs says:

    Fuck off, oddsox.

    Fingernail-clipping (separate time and distance events)
    MTR seat race
    Electronic device-carrying contest
    Burping (loudness and duration events)
    Pavement-blocking

  14. Not Leon Richardson says:

    Walking 6-abreast on narrow crowded sidewalks in Central at slowest pace possible.
    Blinding as many fellow pedestrians possible with sharpened umbrella spokes.
    Checking out customers’ purchases without making eye contact, or any other contact, at max speed.
    Looking most innocent while giving customer change from $ 100- while he/she/it paid with a $ 500- bill (Indian yes/no headroll optional for bonus points).

  15. lantaulinker says:

    Hemlock, if you are going to write your own replies to your posts, at least fake the normal grammatical errors a la HK-style Engrish!

    Great post, as usual.

    As for “Fun Days” in Mui Wo, our blessed Rural Committee leaders wanted us to engage in community gardening. The last person who took up the call got threatened with prosecution for “cultivating government land”.

    Ah so.

  16. Not Chris Bale says:

    No Hemlock for 2 days in a row.

    You think the old git has finally croacked ?

  17. chanboy says:

    Or the Beijing masters got tire of his rantings and ask the HKSAR gov to “do something about it”.

  18. isomoliu says:

    Now now boys, it’s ok. The sweating and tremor will pass.

  19. Da Docta says:

    All three numbers I have for Hemlock are not answered. Has he eaten a Crispy Creme doughnut? Been savaged by a gang of miniature Pomeranians? All information gratefully received….

    Come back Hemmie…we love you.

    DD

  20. Sam says:

    Speak fer yerself, Doc.

  21. Forest Grump says:

    Hey – no Hemlock..?? Maybe all that rain yesterday turned the pollution into acid rain, and he just dissolved….??

  22. Not Warwick Evans either says:

    Maybe…..Hemlock is 008 and Q has called him back, with urgency, because his cover was about to be blown by the Elves

  23. chanboy says:

    Or could it be that the property developers have had it with Hemlock exoposing their dirty little secrets and now wants “vengence”.

  24. Not John Culkin says:

    Hemlock being blown by the Elves, imagine that……

    On second thought: don’t !

  25. N8Ma says:

    elves, no.

    hobbits, on the other hand…

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