Update from Hemlock

The mood on the Mid-Levels Escalator this morning is one of unmitigated grief, with children, women and even grown men with gravelly voices and hairy chests sobbing quietly to themselves, if not wailing out loud and beating their breasts in despair. What could cause such woe?

Could it be the determination of our evil government to ram through its dastardly plan to brainwash our helpless and innocent children and force them to think independently and love the motherland, and learn from school student Chui Ting-wan who ‘spends a lot of time with the national flag’? Amazingly, no it is not.

Could it be the imminence of the 2012 Grand Global International World Tiddlywinks Championship Extravaganza Celebrations Opening Ceremony in London, and its subsequent two weeks of purposeless and monotonous running round in circles and jumping into water? Oddly, it’s not that either.

Could it be the probably-involuntary decision by Legislative Council members Chim Pui-chung and Timothy Fok not to run for re-election in their respective functional constituencies, stock brokers and sports/media/culture, after many, many, many years of selfless service to the community, thus freeing the rigged seats for pro-Beijing figures who actually turn up to vote? No, not even that.

No – our tears are flowing at the tragic news that Hong Kong’s number-one position as a shopping paradise for Mainlanders is under threat as more are buying luxury goods at home. For years, we have been told that, were it not for the millions of cross-border – sorry, cross-boundary – visitors streaming through our streets and malls, the Big Lychee would be reduced to penury. How will we survive without rents at the old Lane Crawford premises on Queens Road going up from HK$5.5 million a month (H&M tatty clothes) to HK$11 million a month (Zara tatty clothes)? How will we eat without hundreds of tour buses clogging up our streets as they wait in line to pour yet more Mainland money into local real estate and gold? What will we do in the evenings with no advertisements in simplified characters to spray-paint ‘大69’ on?

We are doomed. The weekend is hereby cancelled.

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21 Responses to Update from Hemlock

  1. Bela puts down his shopping bag and says:

    Talking about shopping….Reprise…


    1. They have to stop five times at 7/11 for last-minute shopping before you can get them to your destination.

    2. There aren’t enough power points for all the electronic gadgets in the safe house.

    3. Their relatives are too busy applying for compensation to ever get the ransom together.

    4. Er…

    5. That’s it.

    Or have I missed something?

  2. Sir Crispin says:

    Landlord wept. Crispin 11:35

  3. stanley gibbons says:

    @ Bela. You can do better, and er-I don’t get most of it.

    1 If you were a kidnapper, why would you let them stop at 7/11?
    2. Isn’t it a thieve’s lair rather than a safe house? Also, how do you know there are not enough power points? What electronic gadgets – aren’t most gizmos run by battery anyway?
    3. I’ll give you that one, but is it not more correct to say that they will spend 2 years haggling over the ransom (see Kwoks passim)?

    You are better than this George……

  4. Mary Hinge says:

    I know that in recent years there has been a plague of locusts nipping at the succulent fruit of the Big Lychee, but how the bloody blinking blazes does any clothing store shift enough volume to cover $11 million for monthly rent?

  5. Reductio says:

    Today’s winner of the Feigned Insouciance Award goes to… “H&M spokesman Hacan Andersson [who] confirmed that the Swedish retailer could not reach agreement with its landlord and was closing its central Hong Kong store next year.

    “There is no drama in this,” Andersson said in an emailed response to questions from Reuters. “We open and close stores regularly to always have the best business location.”

    Sure, Hacan.

  6. Vile says:

    The best business location is one where the rent justifies the profits. Seems like sound business sense to me.

  7. Reductio says:

    Profit justifies the rents, surely. But I take your point Vile.

  8. Chopped Onions says:

    my fav: “Sooner or later the owner of the shops will have to rent the stores to cocaine retailers,” John Au-yeung, a property broker who runs the company Fidelity Realty, said.

  9. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ Stanley Gibbons:

    ” is it not more correct to say that they will spend 2 years haggling over the ransom (see Kwoks passim)?”

    Good one there Stanley. Bela is not up to form these days

    PS : Rumour has it that there will be the MOTHER of all marches this sunday against the national education thing, organized by none other than HK’s irate motherhood who don’t want their babies to be indoctrinated. Someone told me that it could be a million people marching ( ! ) I find that hard to believe, but the mild-mannered guy who told me this news himself plans to march for for the 1st time since 1989 even though he must come in from the far distant NT to march with the rest. Let’s see….. ( that’s if I wake up in time after an all night Olympics viewing session)

  10. The Regulator says:

    World Wide House shop rents are the highest psf in the world.

    World Wide House has the highest concentration of unlicensed money changers and remittance companies psf in the world.

  11. TaiTai says:

    The best business location is the best for the brand. The big fashion brands hold their locations while the H&Ms pop up randomly.

    How can Zara pay $11m a month? Maybe by copying instead of designing, and by squeezing their factories? It’s not a pretty scene.

  12. Old Timer says:

    Isn’t business rent tax deductible anyway, so that in reality it’s Mr & Mrs Taxpayer footing, or at least subsidising, the bill?

  13. Claw says:

    Old Timer,

    That’s the whole problem with the ridiculously high property prices in this city. We are paying a tax on everything but instead of it going to the government it is going to the property developers and landlords. Of course it’s somewhat more complicated than that, but that’s the essence.

  14. Incredulous says:

    Jeez. The quality of comments on this site is turning into a load of bollocks. That may include me but WTF!

  15. Vile says:


  16. No soup for you !! says:

    Zara, which has the biggest, most prominently located stores all over the world, in their branch, is rumored to be financed by narco-dollars.

    Nobody in the business understands who they really are and how they are financed. And nobody understands how they can pay those bills, considering the fact that almost everything costs $ 399-

  17. No soup for you !! says:

    Ergo: a massive white-wash operation.

  18. Jon Dica says:

    On the Zara front, Amancio Ortega is now Europe’s richest individual:


    And also interesting…

    “Galicia, the verdant, mountainous region where the company is based, was known mostly for the smuggling of cocaine and cigarettes. Thanks to Mr. Ortega and to another, smaller fashion group, Adolfo Dominguez, it has become the capital of the Spanish rag trade.”


    But no connection between the two, I’m sure.

  19. Chimp says:

    About fucking time the Mainland shoppers left. Not sure how well cocaine retails, but there’s fuck all left to buy except skin whitening products and handbags. Used to be a man could buy something useful, like a wrench. That’s with an ‘r’. The ones without the ‘r’ are still plentiful.

  20. Real Tax Payer says:

    … As a passing weekend thought in view of what Alex Lo wrote today on the Great Educational Debate and Cardinal Zen stepping in ( hark ” The pot calls the kettle black”) :

    “Not even ONE locust remained in all the coasts of Egypt” (Exodus 10:19) ? Wow – now there’s a thing if one takes the bible literally . Eradicating all locusts is a bigger miracle than the locust plague itself, not to mention a “loving” god who takes pleasure in killing all first-born children of a nation just for the stubbornness of its Pharaoh . ( Also amazing that the Jews still make this “historical” event their biggest annual celebration.. oh oh … have I crossed an invisible line ? )

  21. No soup for you !! says:

    no, you just had one “Speckled Hen” too many

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