The latest Gullible-Tourist Tat Outlet to open in the old neighbourhood calls itself Mon Cher Osaka Dojima. It follows in the tradition of Jenny Bakery’s unremarkable cookies and Horng Ryen Jeng food-safety-hazard sandwiches – taking perfectly decent flour, sugar, eggs and butter, and turning them into witless overpriced crap with plasticky ‘authentic’ branding that somehow impresses the endless streams of Mainland and Korean visitors.
The Hong Kong government’s investment-promotion bureaucrats claim credit for attracting the Japanese cake chain here, thus bolstering our city’s position as a leading international business hub. If you want a HK$200+ Swiss roll, this is the place…
Meanwhile, a genuine venerable brand – HSBC – sends me one of its regular cringe-making desperate pleas for attention. While the long wait for higher interest rates and thus lending margins continues, the bank embarks on its millionth effort to mesmerize me with flattery in such a way that I eagerly call up its insurance salesmen. The lure today is ‘new and exclusive’ membership of something called ‘Jade by HSBC Premier’.
Where did this pretentious ‘X by Y’ construction come from? There is a chain of supermarkets in Hong Kong called ‘Market Place by Jasons’. I vaguely suspect it has its origins in restaurant franchises using famous chefs’ names.
Anyway, this oh-so-classy banking concept (?) is inspired by the supposed ancient symbolism of jade – highly priced but ultimately useless metamorphic rock made of silicates, the most abundant material on the planet. The Exciting Unique Value Propositions include Expert Lifestyle Managers to simplify my everyday needs (assuming not having Expert Lifestyle Managers doesn’t work) and access to Expensive Tiny Hotels of the Globe™…
The good news is that you have to download an app, which – something tells me – isn’t going to happen.
Even better news: highly affordable, non-exclusive Plankton Soda by Pokemon…
Wot is Cubumbert ?
Just think. Someone went to school and learned to write. Over many years they went from “see Spot run” to reading Shakespeare and the pithy short stories of Dostoevsky. They went to university and wrote essays critiquing and probing the Romantic poets. And that same someone now writes this.
Fortunately, not being a gold-souled individual, the guardians at HSBC would not deign to bother me with this. I just get exhortations to make my life happier by getting into lots of debt (but with a $200 cash coupon!).
I am pleased you are now addressing important livelihood issues.
And never be surprised at the antics of the banks. It was W H Auden no less who pointed out in his one poem about Hong Kong that:
Here in the East the bankers have created
A worthy tribute to the Comic Muse
They put that poem in a little book of Hong Komg literature some time ago, together with Le Carre, Maugham and Adams.
I tend to switch off when words like “lifestyle” are bandied about. It’s just another one of those BS terms that we now come to accept. Like a new “shopping experience” as some tacky mall. Sorry, but shopping is not an “experience”. Whitewater rafting down the Zambezi is an experience. Climbing Mt Everest is an experience. Shopping is not. It’s a chore.
The HSBC “invitation” (exhortation would be more accurate) looks like the kind of crap I write for a living – quite unlike the magnificent literary experience provided by my blog.
I Googled cubumbert and got only 3 results, none of which left me any the wiser, but I suspect they may mean sea cucumber, which sounds so much more enticing than sea slug – another name for the same creature.
You should try Hysan Place in Causeway Bay. That’s definitely an experience. You will need all your powers of observation and memory to get out. Elevators and lifts are cunningly hidden in out-of -the-way places. One moment of inattention and you will be in wand’ring mazes lost. At the same time you will need great dexterity to avoid the phone-zombie crowds. But the “a-ha” moment when you finally break the code and escape the labyrinth make it worthwhile. Almost.
As a former advertising copywriter, I can assure you that terms such as “enriching life’s defining moments” and “combination of the unique and memorable” are usually in there at the insistence of the client. No serious writer would submit such drivel in the first place, and experience teaches that this kind of pompous, pretentious shite will usually be inserted by some benighted marketing manager desperate to put their crude stamp on the piece.
Oh come on Big Al…don’t be such a stick in the mud!!! Shopping is the one activity HKers would medal in regularly were it some world recognized competition…
It’s a no-brainer: a cucumbert is someone who eats cucumber sandwiches. Hysan Place? Don’t even go there.
Wot? No George today!
The Chinese for “water cubumber” is right there for all to see. Google 清爽青瓜 and take a look. It’s a little green, penis-like cucumber that seems to be popular at this moment as an ingredient in expensive brand shampoos. Apparently like aloe we are expected to become excited about drinking it as well.
“Where did this pretentious ‘X by Y’ construction come from? . . . I vaguely suspect it has its origins in restaurant franchises using famous chefs’ names.”
I think I first saw it in hotel names.
A made-up example: something like ‘Shanghai Parc Hotel by Marriot’.
New poster, long-time reader (btw, keep up the good work, H). Just curious: does anyone know why this person “George” aka “Bufton Tufton…” so frequently–perhaps obsessively–posts these petty, envious and snarky comments here? I glanced at the blog site he touts, and aside from finding it not my cup of tea, observed that he posts more often here than in his own blog…that is, the blog he’s advocated that people should follow in lieu of BigLychee.
Obviously Premier is deemed too plebian by many HSBC customers these days. I suspect this is aimed at Mainlanders who think that, unless you chain smoke and dress like a Louis Vuitton suit case or Versace manikin (complete with pot belly and buzz cut), you’re not quite as prestigious as they are and don’t want the gaze or company of grubby foreign and HK middle corporate management and professionals while they launder their cash.