Update from Hemlock

The morning starts with a refreshing cup of hot, brown water-flavoured liquid at the IFC Mall branch of Pacific Coffee. A middle-aged woman of apparently humble means walks in with a bundle of China Dailies and shoves one in my direction. She then sits on the easy chair opposite, produces a handgun and points it at me. “Read it!” she snaps. They are getting serious about circulation figures.

Thus it is that I find myself perusing a thought-provoking piece from some sort of strategic studies academic called Wang Baokun, who has important news for us. “China needs aircraft carriers because they are important for cooperation.” One way of looking at it, I suppose. Perhaps the sort of cooperation he is envisaging is the sort you would get from, say, the Philippine government if you parked a couple of carrier groups off Manila Bay and asked it to stand aside while you helped yourself to the Spratly Islands and various bits of the Luzon coast that have been part of the motherland since time immemorial.

The China Daily distributor moves on to other victims, and I am free to dip into the free and objective Standard for some far brighter aviation news. To my delight, I learn that Cathay Pacific Airways has finally seen sense and decided to ban exceptionally ugly breeds of cat and dog from flying.

This is long overdue. Nothing, in my experience, has ever ruined a journey more than the presence of these repulsive beasts on an aircraft. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have been sitting back in my seat listening to the soothing, sophisticated sounds of Kenny G on the headphones, sipping a quarter-bottle of Chardonnay and watching the flight’s progress on the map on the TV – lost in a reverie of airborne relaxation, as if floating above the world – when to my horror, I feel a rubbing sensation against my leg, and look down to see the revolting mutant face of one of these disgusting animals in the aisle, hoping for a pat or a treat. What on earth possesses people to have such grotesque, genetically mis-shapen animals in the first place, I have no idea, but to fly with them is selfish and anti-social.

Now I will have no need to splash out and invite A-Hing the Bowen Road labrapoodle ripper with me on my next round-the-world tour. A key question remains: will CX take this to its logical conclusion and ban a certain other life-form from the cabin – the ones that look very similar to pugs, but have a distinctive lack of fur and spend the journey in bassinets?  I think there could be an Airline of the Year Award in it.

Click to hear ‘Flying Away’ by The Serpent Power!


This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Update from Hemlock

  1. Maugrim says:

    I wasn’t aware that animals travelled in the cabin, especially on CX. I did see a spoilt pug sitting at a table in a restaurant in Macau recently. 20 years ago it would have been on the menu.

  2. Real Tax Payer says:

    The cats and dogs only fly in first class on CX , that’s why you have never seen them ( that’s the ones without pacemakers : the ones with pacemakers get exclusive use of first class so will certainly never see them unless you are one of their attendant vets )

    I once heard a story – maybe apocryphal – of a group of Uighurs who took a goat and some chickens with them on a CAAC flight in the good ole’ days when you avoided Chinese aircraft with 3 pairs of wheels ( i.e. the second-hand ones from the USSR) and the stewardesses were still daughters of high-ranking cadres and who all sat chatting in the empty first class section, thus service in economy was sh1t. Things were going OK until the Uighurs decided they needed lunch and slaughtered a chicken in the toilet ( it doesn’t say anywhere that you can’t flush feathers down the toilet on aircraft).

    The stewardesses only stepped in when the Uighers lit a fire on the floor of aisle to boil up the chicken.

    These days service on most Chinese airlines puts any American airline to shame.

  3. On Da Lo says:

    MH already has a no baby policy for its first class cabin:


    Not being able to afford/struggling to justify that kind of airfare, I have resorted to a combination of noise cancelling headphones, alcohol and a reasonable book to see me through instead.

  4. Maugrim says:

    RTP, i usually travel Business Class, but still haven’t seen anything. I did have to laugh at the logic put forward by the SPCA that CX’s policy would lead to more animals being dumped or euthanised. An over exaggeration perhaps. Still, the behaviour of a few pugs couldn’t be any worse than some of our northern brothers and sisters, Hk tour groups and those who travel with children who are in need of ‘special assistance’.

  5. Longtimenosee says:

    Your archive amused me today.

    28th Sept 2005.

    Ripped into the absurd price of HK$8,700 per square foot for centre stage.

    Now it’s HK$15,000 per square foot…you led us astray 🙁

    “On the radio this morning Churchouse noted that prices are still 40 percent or so below their 1997 peak. The implication is that there is lots of lovely upside because the 1997 level was somehow natural and normal though on a graph it looks like Mount Everest in the middle of a prairie.”

    Twin peaks it seems.

  6. Proud Father says:

    Recently travelled to Europe with my 10-month old twins.

    Oh, the looks of horror… priceless!

  7. Stephen says:

    The day cannot be far off when the Pro China Morning Post, which already does a passable impression of the China Daily, is given away by middle aged ladies of apparent humble means.

  8. chopped onions says:

    You mean you have to pay real live cash for the scmp, wow! Who knew?

  9. Real Tax Payer says:

    Chopped Onions :

    Not only do I pay real tax ( I mean REAL tax – a few hundred thousand per year – which is why I get so P*******d off when it’s so badly misued) but also pay for my Pro-(South)-China MP

    Actually, I subscribe on-line which is much cheaper and also means I can get it anywhere in the world (including China)


    However, today’s Hemlock musings got me thinking some more, and after yesterdays discussion on the Big Lychee about Filipina maids I am beginning to think that there is something DECIDELY RACIST about CX’s policy re not transporting cats and dogs with short noses.

    I mean SERIOUSLY RACIST ! This a blatent cats n’ dogs racial discrimination policy based purely on the the length of the moggy or pooch’s NOSE !

    Now if that’s not racial profiling I don’t know what is. It’s as bad as banning every Arabic traveller with a bin laden beard or every Palestinian because he wears a Yassir Arafat head dress.

    What if nose length becomes a GO/NO-GO policy for us humans on CX ? Well, first to NO-GO would be the Cantonese, because statistically they have the shortest noses in China and that would be a big (nose)-blow for HK’s “home airline” ( and half their beautiful hostesses)

    “CX PRESS ANNOUNCEMENT: All Cantonese with noses less than X mm measured from the cheekbone median baseline are hereby banned from flying unless accompanied by a responsible adult with a longer nose. ( All nose jobs in Shenzhen must be declared . Failure to declare a nose job on check-in may result in a fine not exceeding HK$500,000 or 10 years imprisonment )”

    On the other hand , Shanghainese are always poking their (long) noses into everything we do in HK so they would all qualify as CX diamond members ( talk about hard-nosed ! … or should I say hard brown nosed ? )

    Actually they probably already are diamond members because of all their trips to BJ. And those Shanghainese called Henry are probably lifetime members because of all their trips to California where they keep their vineyards ( and horses? )

    DECLARATION OF INTEREST : I personally find short Chinese girls’ noses incredibly beautiful and sexy , and long (just a figure of speech) may they remain so 😉


  10. PropertyDeveloper says:

    Out here in the sticks, where DHL fears to go, the news can be a little tardy. But I independently came to the same conclusion as RTP, whose salary incidentally seems almost beyond computation, that CX’s orthognathic policy, reminiscent of the 19th C. scientific conventional wisdom, must be a wind-up.

  11. PropertyDeveloper says:

    PS Can CX also ban those without web feet, in case the crate ditches?

  12. Real Tax Payer says:

    PD :

    I’m in the bracket where my tax bill is capped at 15% of my salary ( I have no housing allowance or mortgage ) , so yes I do pay a couple of hundred thousand per year in tax.

    I was astonished when I accidentally saw my PA’s tax bill : she earns over HK$30K p.m. and has a mortgage and 2 kids, but her tax bill was only a few HK$ hundred. That’s when I began to really understand that 95% of HK’s salary tax is paid by 5% of the working population. So we are in fact much more socialist than Mainland China.

    If ever I have the misfortune to meet Donald, Henry or their like face to face I will say to them : ” I pay your salary so please bow to me and buy me a drink ”

    But speaking of CX ( and short noses) : I recall once a press article that said CX, despite being HK’s “home airline”. have cleverly incorporated themselves offshore, so they only pay a couple of HK$ million in HK profits tax p.a. ( less than I have paid myself over the past 20 -odd years) I cannot vouch for the truth of that horrifying and – frankly – quite disgusting allegation , but I am sure others out there in the big Lychee can flesh it out, if indeed it’s true.

    And if true it is indeed really horrifying and disgusting ( Hope it’s not true and that CX does in fact pay HK$ billions in HK profits tax)

  13. PropertyDeveloper says:

    This sort of question has been the subject of much debate as long as I can remember — key words, broadening the tax base. The reason the present system exists, I suppose, is that in many countries, tax evasion is endemic, so the administratively easy course is chosen, to pick off the rich cats.

    However, it’s all relative. A top rate of 15% is much lower than the US, UK or France, all countries where I’m paying tax. And the HK paradox — one of many — is that government land revenues are much higher than income tax… income. One might think this unsustainable in the long run, but the counter-argument is that reclamation (and building further up and down) can take us a long away, at least as far as 2047, when all the dosh “returns” to the fatherland anyway, so why worry?

  14. Real Tax Payer says:

    PD : Don’t get me wrong: I earn enough to be able to afford my income tax bill ( even though it hurts me every time I write a cheque to the IRD, and I even have to pay for the stamp on the envelope !) . 15% cap is very reasonable, all things considered, and I’m quite happy to subsidize those who earn much less than me ( which is why I am so incensed by the $6000 thing : I would much much rather that the govt used all the $40 Billion to improve the lot of those who earn much less than I do)

    On the other hand if we pay rent or a have a mortgage we must pay an indirect tax in the form of high land auction costs, because these find their way to everyone who either owns the place he/ she lives in , passed on to them via the property developers.

    At least when I retire in HK a few years later I will never have to pay any tax again . My father who lives in the UK has a company pension of about PDS 100K per year. He pays 50% – yes 50% ! – tax on his pension.

  15. Plod says:

    Fat people are far worse than animals or kids. Never seen animals on board and you can put on your ipod to avoid kids’ noise but fat buggers who pay for an economy seat and end up taking half of yours as well…aaarrgh. Pay for 2 seats or go in business you selfish oafs.

    And as for those who stink of BO and think it acceptable to wear a vest, shorts and flip flops on a long flight – stop them at immigration.

Comments are closed.