Update from Hemlock

Morning in the resplendent entrance lobby of Perpetual Opulence Mansions, and a Nepalese security guard drags the lifeless body of a Jehovah’s Witness across the shiny Italian marble floor, out of the door and in the direction of the Municipal Solid Waste Transfer Station down on the next street. I reach into my mailbox and retrieve a pristine white envelope. It has that faint but exquisite, indeed erotic, sweet aroma of crisp, newly issued banknotes straight out of an ATM or laisee packet.

As I glide down the Mid-Levels Escalator towards Central, I open it up to find a glossy leaflet featuring an aphorism – and not just any saying, but a pithy teaching of almost Confucian wisdom from HSBC. It says: “Realise your aspirations with befitted product offerings.”

Of course, some less advantaged people out there can only ever dream of befitted product offerings. But those of us who qualify for an HSBC Premier® account are accustomed to them. To get an idea of what sort of privileged class of individuals we are talking about here, look no further than the HSBC brochure. A handsome man in shorts sits outside an understated but luxury villa overlooking a steaming jungle. His feet rest in expensively cooled water in which (look closely with a magnifying glass) little magic fish happily nibble away the dead skin on his heels and toes. He is pausing to look down into the dense tropical woodland, musing on its putrid rotting vegetation and unspeakably disgusting millipedes and other revolting creatures, before checking his laptop for the latest news on befitted product offerings…

It is, of course, all an allegory. The hillside represents the mountain of wealth HSBC’s elite customers are sitting on; the icky creepy-crawlies represent the horror that is Hong Kong’s national shame; the mist drifting from the trees represents the hazy thinking of our government; and the maid you can’t see doing the ironing in the luxury villa is a maid doing the ironing – and who will subsequently go to buy groceries to be paid for with Park N Shop coupons.

Which brings us rather elegantly to…

…the befitted product offerings in question. If you increase your Total Relationship Balance (that is, the amount of cash, investments or – intriguingly – loans in your HSBC account) by HK$3 million before 30 November and keep it there at least until 31 December, they will give you HK$1,800 in supermarket coupons. The idea is that I pull three million bucks from whatever other investments I may have – gold ETFs, a Discovery Bay golf cart or whatever – and park it in HSBC. Because that’s how badly I want some Park N Shop coupons.

I shall now head into S-Meg Tower and dangle this befitted product offering in front of Ms Fang the hunter-killer secretary. She will drool with longing and lust for the HK$1,800 worth of Park N Shop coupons, and suffer extreme mental anguish at the thought that the company gwailo is turning his nose up at them. And this will bring the working week to just the amusing end that I hoped for.  Thus I realise my aspirations with befitted product offerings.


This entry was posted in Hemlock. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Update from Hemlock

  1. Sir Crispin says:

    It is a rather sad commentary on this city.

  2. Bela Ballistic says:

    Kiasu rule no 6 I think…

    Anything you get for free is worth a hundred times the real value. And you queue for it even though you don’t need it.


    Before I leave Hong Kong, or when i am truly pissed-off, i will draw out all my Mandatory Provident Fund and dump it into a sewerage farm tank…then advertise the fact in the SCMP…how long will the queue be?

    Hong Kong is worth living in though. A constant study in what people will put up with for money – expats and locals alike. Such as the inhuman environment called Central, where you can buy, work and gawp but never exist as a human being.

  3. Maugrim says:

    Yep, such correspondance goes straight in to the bin, both owing to the paltry returns and to the ridiculous fees. However, apparently the coffee and papers are good at the CWB branch which has become some sort of defacto clubhouse for monied tightarses.

  4. Boo says:

    It worries me a bit that HSBC thinks its high-worth customers are too stupid to pull out a calculator and type 1800/3,000,000.

  5. Hunter-Killer Secretary says:

    My extreme mental anguish comes from the fact that I work for a gwailo who doesn’t even have $3 million spare

  6. Jonathan Stanley says:

    Bela nailed it… never, ever, ever underestimate the hold of Kaisu for the local HK populace. I expect the above offer will be a riot for NT indigenous HSBC Premier customers.

  7. Stephen says:

    I always find it difficult to understand why people, of presumably sound mind, bank with HSBC ? So a little weekend quiz for you all. Is it ?

    A. The extraordinary long queues outside their ATM’s;
    B. Their services charges which are higher than others;
    C. The officious attitude of counter staff (personally trained by D. Eldon);
    D. The children who work in 1 Queens Road;
    E. Their collusion with the Tycoons (especially the Li’s);
    F. Befitted product offerings (The Li’s again):
    G. All of the above.

  8. Prodigal_Son says:


    Not especially far withdrawn from the standard returns from a public bank.

    Who earns giant piles of money and then decides that the correct course of action to see that it grows in value commensurate to the effort you put into making it, is to invest it with the same institution which has been grinding every last cent out of you for the last decade?

    There’s a Hemlock coined phrase which has stuck with me through the years, it regarded electrons moving at the incredible slow pace they achieve through copper wire when someone is earning interest on them.

  9. Big Al says:

    If only I wanked with HSBC then I, too, could be sitting on the floor with my Park’n’Rob coupons and my feet in a drainage channel thinking “now where the fuck did I park the car”?

    Looking at Hong Kong’s greatest shame (other than the video from yesterday’s link by Real Lax Mayor), #10 reminds me of the missus when she’s just stepped out of the shower. Having said that, she’d probably say that I look like #8 all the time.

    Anyway, the weekend beckons …

  10. Rita Chevrolet, for Bela Ballistic says:


    They don’t trust all the rest.


    It;s always thought of as a Singaporean thing but it slots right into the Hong Kong psyche.

  11. Aghast says:

    More white men whining about ‘locals’. Never, ever a pretty sight.

  12. Joe Blow says:

    First world problems.
    Shouldn’t we be glad to have them ?

  13. Habitable Underpants says:


    “More white men whining about ‘locals’. Never, ever a pretty sight.”

    Could I also suggest, “More white men shagging ‘locals’. Never, ever a pretty sight.”

Comments are closed.