Update from Hemlock

Is there nowhere in the world today contentedly basking in the rays of happiness? In the US and the UK, doomsayers warn of a double-dip recession and a return to the days of the Great Depression, with the barefooted destitute selling apples and lining up at soup kitchens. China and Japan are in a bitter dispute, undoing historic humiliation and injustice over the Diaoyutai islands, or upholding international law over the Senkakus, according to taste. Nearly everywhere else in the world is undergoing earthquakes or floods, reeling from the shock of rapidly rising food prices, or having to watch reality TV shows.

She wrote this song for me! Click to hear Randy Newman’s ‘My Life Is Good’!

In one place, however, everything is wonderful. The Republic of the Philippines rejoices today at the news that Hong Kong people still want its citizens to come and wash their dishes, mop their floors and – to quote today’s guest star – wipe the baby’s ass. This is despite all the unpleasantness over the Manila bus massacre, and the lower wages that Indonesian maids simply love working for. The reasons, the Philippine press excitedly reports, involve its migrant workers’ “proven reliability.” In other words, reduced down-time, of the sort amply illustrated in the main English-language newspapers of Hong Kong and Macau, both showing why hirers of Indonesians went without dinner on Friday as their helpers were goofing off celebrating Eid in local parks.

What the recruiters quoted in the article don’t say is that Philippine domestic staff bring more than a high degree of dependability and functionality, undying loyalty, incessant good cheer and superior English skills: they also display a certain ingenuity. Or at least my own pair of Filipino Elves do, which is why my freezer frequently bulges with free food. Pounds of lamb – a scarce meat in this sheep-averse Cantonese town – are salvaged from the trimmed ends of shoulder rejected every week by a nearby Lebanese restaurant. The seafood is actually caught by hook and line at a remote location on Lantau Island that I am sworn to keep secret, where a little community of Filipinos, Chinese plus one Japanese regularly gather on the pier to harvest the cornucopia of the sea.

The elves did not have a good week. One was looking for a little apartment and was turned away by a landlady on the grounds that “Filipinos no good, bang! bang!” The other was taken to task by one of my own neighbours for her undoubted part in the incompetence of the Manila police. But things went their way the other evening when the fishing expedition yielded an incredible 170 squid (a few of which are pictured) plus a garoupa. A Chinese woman alongside them on the quay somehow ended up with a completely empty bucket and asked if she could have a few of the elves’ obviously spare cephalopods. They said no.

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9 Responses to Update from Hemlock

  1. Maugrim says:

    I’m sure those maids who took friday off will not be allowed to forget it lightly. (what is it with the solitary lady in blue?). This is where HK has to be careful with its collective karma. No good beating and giving helpers a hard time and then bleating about how Chinese are discriminated against the world over.

  2. Sir Crispin says:

    I found it highly ironic how the HK people were complaining about the incompetence and corruption in the Philippines government. People in glass houses, as they say. Perhaps this was a case of Wag the Dog, where the locals were mesmerized by the troubles overseas that they forgot what goes on here.

    Lady Crispin is herself a Filipina and she told me how some cow in the change room at our gym started spouting off at her. Treading dangerous ground, for she has a fiery temper and has no qualms about yelling back at ignorant locals who try to talk down to her as if she were a helpless DH.

  3. Hygienist says:

    One incredible advantage of Filipina helpers is that they don’t have bizarre rituals involving pissing in the baby’s milk or mixing the cereal with menstrual blood as do some of their Indonesian counterparts.

  4. Norbert Dentressangle Jr says:

    Me t’inks that the SCMP’s “Lady in Blue” is in fact the Blessed Virgin Mary doing another one of her beyond-the-grave special guest appearances.

  5. Maugrim says:

    Sir Crispin, lets face it, if Governmental coruption and overall incompetence was an olympic event, the Phils would win gold. HK isn’t even in the same league.

  6. FB3 says:

    “Me t’inks that the SCMP’s “Lady in Blue” is in fact the Blessed Virgin Mary doing another one of her beyond-the-grave special guest appearances.”

    Or maybe she forgot to remove a pen from a pocket before putting said outfit in the wash.

  7. Sir Crispin says:

    True Maugrim, but the HK government, as evidenced by many a Hemlock blog is not exactly known for its competence on any given matter or day of the week.

  8. Donald Tsang says:

    I resent the implication that my government is incontinent. In fact, a 6 month study by several of my Under Secretaries into their own competency has revealed gains of almost 20% in the last 2 years, despite a large drop in integrity that could easily have led to downward pressure on the competency index. This is a pleasing result, and indeed it is a much higher growth rate than the level I instructed them to find when I initiated the study. This show they also have initiative. As a result, I will be rewarding them with extra responsibilities – including empowering them to wear firearms on any of the rare occasions they need to use our public bus network or monitor democracy marches, in case any Filipinos present do anything to cause a danger to our highway construction timetable or, unless warranted, fellow passengers.

  9. Nigel says:

    Today’s guest star: Randy Newman “My Life Is Good”. You do not have to emulate the song’s hero who declares his intentions based on his attraction to his friend’s “cute little brown thing”…… I claim my £5

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