Update from Hemlock

The delicate, crisp crunch of Ferragamo black patent-leather low heels on frosty pavement heralds the break of day in an otherwise silent Central. In a swirl of cold breath, cashmere and fur, beguiling Administrative Officer Winky Ip opens the door of Yuet Yuen Congee and Noodle Palace and steps into the warmth. Teeth chattering and torso shivering from the bitter cold outside, she sits opposite me at the almost stain-free Formica-topped table near the window. She is too frozen to talk and stares at the little television on the wall. Property tycoon Thomas Kwok of Sun Hung Kai is being interviewed.

To our amazement he is telling people not to buy apartments at the Wings, the developer’s latest exciting mega-luxury, opulent, exclusive, tasteful living residential project. “We’ve been asking around 8,000 bucks per square foot on average for these places,” he says, “and incredibly some people are dumb enough to pay it. But in all conscience I have to say that there is a huge difference between the price of something and its real value.”

Kwok mutters something about being a Christian. “Obviously,” he goes on, “we round up the size of the apartments by including space in the stairwells and clubhouse. But more to the point is the ridiculous overall price tags. This Wings project, for example, is in Tseung Kwan O, for heaven’s sake! It’s a dump. Seriously, its actual value, if you strip out market distortions, can’t be any more than a couple of thousand dollars per square foot, maximum. I tell the good, hard-working people of Hong Kong, don’t waste your money – live somewhere older.”

As I order extra hot congee to thaw out my bureaucrat companion, a chef from Cecconi’s Italian restaurant in Soho comes on the screen and starts warning people to avoid his eatery. “It’s nothing special,” he laments in an earthy Australian accent, “just the usual overpriced crap you get in that neighbourhood. The rents are so high we have to cut corners on ingredients and portion sizes, and of course the tables are tiny and jammed up against each other, so it’s hardly comfortable. The so-called service and tacky décor are supposed to detract from that, and amazingly we do get customers – but you have to wonder what their problem is. Bottom line is it’s lousy value for money. Mate, you’d be way better off having noodles in the daipaidong a few streets down the hill.”

The interviewer turns to the show’s third guest, rock singer Elvis Costello, who starts insisting that the price of a new boxed set of his works “appears to be either a misprint or a satire.”

As we cradle our glasses of tea to warm our hands, I ask Winky if there is any chance of the Hong Kong government joining in this wave of brutal honesty suddenly breaking out everywhere. It turns out that there is.

“Donald is desperate to leave a grand legacy,” she tells me. “In terms of policy, that is, to augment his achievements on the hardware side, like the Huge Bright Shiny Government HQ at Tamar, the world’s largest bridge with three immigration checkpoints all in the same country, and the tunnel to Shenzhen to house a high-speed rail link to the place near Guangzhou we can never remember the name of.”

Before I can guess what it will be, she blurts it out. “Dogs!”

“You mean they’re going to let us eat them again?” I ask.

“No – we’re going to ban them. As pets. We’re admitting it: they’re disgusting.”

Under the new legislation, she explains, possession of a dog will be an offence punishable by 10 years in prison, a fine of HK$500,000 or both. As a concession, to enable the community to reach a consensus and move forward, there will be a special canine reserve in the New Territories where people who crave the sight of dog excrement and the sound of incessant barking will be able to visit and watch the creatures pant with their tongues hanging out and sniff each other’s bottoms.

“We’re rolling out the new policy in Tuen Mun,” she says, pulling out a photograph of a poo-free park. “The Department of Putting Signs Everywhere has produced these rather fetching items.” She pauses while I absorb the colourful barriers. “Note the impact of having lots and lots of them,” she points out.

Where have I seen this design before? A black symbol on a white disc set against a red oblong background.

“It starts tonight. The first ones will be rounded up, loaded onto special freight carriages on the MTR and…” she stares at me intently. “…taken away.”

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10 Responses to Update from Hemlock

  1. maugrim says:

    “where people who crave the sight of dog excrement and the sound of incessant barking will be able to visit and watch the creatures pant with their tongues hanging out and sniff each other’s bottoms.”

    Ahh yes, the CEO ‘election’.

  2. Iffy says:

    Aw. It’s like today’s blog was written for me. I could actually get behind it if more specifically targeted at the yappy terrier next door.

  3. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    My dog loves me more than my wife ever will. Can’t you take her instead?

  4. Stephen says:

    Or a member of the 1200 strong Election Committee admits;

    “It’s an absolute ckufing fix, we are just waiting for central people’s government to tell us who to vote for and we will, even if its that lying, cheating, grinning pig, Henry”

    Is the weekend open?

  5. Real Tax Payer says:

    What amazes me is that no sooner does the Govt announce new and stringent rules for selling new flats ( “real” useable net space vs gross floor area, etc ) than the property sector publicises all sorts of ways to cirmumvent these new rules ( eg sell in block to a BVI company and then re- sell as 2nd hand units )

    It seems that that the property sector are HELL-BENT on deceiving the public, and that goes for ” so-called Christian” Walter Kwok

  6. Wolfsbane says:

    I declare the weekend open.

  7. Had enough says:

    Until Hong Kong people stopping acting like sheeple and wise up, these developers will continue to take the piss. No matter how stupidly priced a place is they are practically killing themselves to get their cheque books out as fast as possible. This govt is never going to do anything against the developers.

    I am still waiting to see what is going to happen to that old bastard from Henderson land, it seems the government can’t be bothered to charge him with fraud. HK really is the best govt money can buy

  8. Probably says:

    What is it about Hong Kong dog owners? These are perpetrators of animal cruelty. They buy animals intended for living in cooler climates (hence the fur coat) and then if the animal isn’t cooped up in a 400 sq.ft apartment with no room to exercise then they are immersed into an unnatural (for them) sub-tropical heat which causes them to pant heavily and dehydrate (as can be seen from dark yellow pee).

    These people are the opposite of animal lovers – even worse than those of us that are neutral on the subject.

  9. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    Don’t worry, Probably. My dog has light yellow pee.

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