Hemlock's Diary
30 Mar-5 Apr, 2008
Mon, 31 Mar
I am beside myself with excitement.  To my great surprise, I am one of the fortunate few privileged to be having a private audience this evening with Jeffrey ‘you may call me Lord’ Archer, the modest Nobel-winning literary giant, internationally recognized statesman, Olympic athlete, befriender of fallen women and the imprisoned, proponent of ethical investment practices and integrity while under oath in courts of law, and so much more, not necessarily in that order.  I can’t put it better than dramatist Guy Jenkin, who
said, “my Jeffrey Archer is the man who has frequently saved Britain over the last 30 years.  He’s beloved of all women he comes across, all men, all dogs – he’s a superhero.” 

His Honourable Worshipfulness is also a stunning seer, who can predict future events so accurately that his new books come straight off the presses with ‘Number One Best Seller’ on them before anyone has bought a single one.  And to think that of the millions of copies of his latest opus printed, mine was one of just five containing a gold ticket entitling the bearer to be alone in the great man’s presence for a full two minutes after tonight’s Dymocks/
HK Magazine literary dinner!  (Which reminds me – is it just me or have the once-amusing front pages of HK Magazine become embarrassingly unfunny over the last couple of months?)

The poster in the bookshop windows advertising the gathering carries His Magnificence’s name not once, not twice, not thrice, but four times – in bold upper case – if you count the illustration of the book cover.  It will, of course, be five times after I have begged his indulgence and persuaded him to inscribe it for me, soon after I myself have signed the pre-audience contract promising not to refer in any way to malicious rumours that the demi-god of the book world’s novels are largely written by a team of editors in New York.  It would, of course, never cross my mind to mention such a thing to his face or to anyone anywhere at any time.
Tue, 1 Apr
The private audience with His Grace the Lord Jeffrey of Archer last night went well.  I congratulated him on his contribution to English literature and outlined my aesthetic hypothesis about his works’ exploration of the human condition through the rejection of postmodern mimetic representation, with its self-defeating cult of originality.  He asked me where he could get some safari suits run up cheaply.  Then my 120 seconds were over, and I got up off my knees and we bade each other farewell.
Today’s patriotic South China Morning Post devotes almost its entire front page to the Olympic torch that seems to have gripped the world’s more modest imaginations.  It seems only a few days ago that some vaguely Hellenic-looking women in robes and hair bundled up into chignons – looking like something off a vase – were performing some sort of ceremony with it in the midst of an Ancient Greek ruin.  I got the impression that someone would then run with the thing all the way to China, and I briefly wondered how it would stay alight.  Now the terrifically important burning stick has almost instantly appeared in Beijing, clutched solemnly by the nation’s President.  Were I an alien life form spying on Earth right now, I would send a report back to my home planet noting with amused contempt the hopelessness and backwardness of a civilization  that allocates extensive financial, organizational and security resources to guard, venerate and showcase a blazing baseball bat.  I would also suspect that there are actually several of these holy objects – like the dozens of true crosses in the Middle Ages – to make life easier for the cabal that parades them around in order to mesmerize and control the world’s inhabitants.  And I would guess a propane gas canister.
TWO ITEMS mysteriously appear in the gwailo’s lair sometime around lunch.  One is the UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs’ latest six-monthly report on Hong Kong.  The other, perched triumphantly upon it, is an offering from an accountant called Pastrami Lee.  She is due to give birth to a little auditor or actuary and is celebrating her last day at S-Meg Holdings by forcing upon everyone a chocolate and polyvinyl cream cake garnished with… a small sprig of parsley.  The great angelica harvest failure of 2008 continues to drive Hong Kong’s bakeries to desperate culinary resorts unparalleled since the Russians mixed sawdust into the bread dough during the siege of Leningrad.  Which of these two offerings, I wonder, will prove the less indigestible?
Wed, 2 Apr
Reflecting on the recently released 2007 financial results in the morning meeting, the Big Boss laments the poor performance of certain parts of S-Meg Holdings.  The foods division is going through a particularly bad patch, with the cost of raw ingredients rising almost across the board.  Durian-flavoured chewing gum, squid-pineapple-mayonnaise pizza topping, mango juice with triple added sugar – many of our niche products are suffering from collapsing margins.

The normally silent manager responsible explains that our products’ consumers are price-sensitive.  Reading between the lines, it seems they represent the younger, up-market part of Hong Kong’s lumpenproletariat.  They are not the elderly who pick through garbage or drag cardboard through the streets, nor are they the middle-aged cleaners who have their job titles changed so their employers can sign up to the Government’s voluntary
Wage Protection Movement without hiking anyone’s pay.  But nor are they Porsche-owning investment bankers with 10 months’ bonus.  They are the ginger-haired, acne-prone, karaoke-singing public housing estate inmates who toil as sales assistants on commission and have enough discretionary income to cover Salem Lights, Cantopop CDs and a bit of housekeeping for the parents, but they cut back on dire junk food when the world’s commodity prices go crazy.  Various promotional gimmicks are planned.  If a label saying ‘Win a private audience with JEFFREY ARCHER’ doesn’t shift green tea ice cream, what will?

Around three years after Mao took over China in 1949, he sent out instructions that landlords and moneylenders were to be eliminated.  Around 1.5 million absentee property owners were killed and their holdings handed to the peasants who farmed them.  Today’s Communists are more understanding towards capitalists, as Beijing quasi-spokesman Wang Zhenmin
reveals to the (mostly Western) readership of the Hong Kong Journal while explaining the reasons the Big Lychee cannot have democracy before 2017…
…universal suffrage signifies the transfer of economic benefits from a few wealthy people to the general public …

Currently, the interests of business and industrial groups are well protected by authorities who are business-friendly and follow the principle of business first … once universal suffrage is realized the voting majority becomes the source of public power.  The government will inevitably take better care of the general public …

We must allow time for the minority to adjust and find new ways to protect its legal interests in a fully-democratized political environment ... One can not kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, or drain the pond to get all the fish at once.
It’s the tycoons who create the wealth, while the masses are just itching to vote for subsidized wasabi and cuttlefish-flavour corn chips.  And no, we won’t let you make them kneel on broken glass to help them adjust.  More wondrous than the Great Wall – a zero-sum mindset of almost child-like simplicity that owes as much to the deep thinking of Hong Kong’s cartel owners as it does to Marx.  Is a country of 1.3 billion really run by people who think like this?
Thurs, 3 Apr
Our selfless and hard-working civil servants are excelling themselves at the moment.  They are busy organizing Joyful Fruit Day, in which Hong Kong will recognize the important role played in the community by our plucky little friends, the apples, oranges and, of course, lychees, who, with their cheeky grins and kind words for everyone, uncomplainingly provide us with succulence, roughage and enzymes, day after day.  Looking further ahead, our bureaucrats are preparing for next year’s 20th anniversary celebrations of the first Mid-Levels dog poisoning.  The Post Office will issue a set of stamps featuring expired labrapoodles and other hounds, superstar Edison Chen will be appointed roving Pit Bull-Strangling Goodwill Ambassador, there will be the inevitable children’s painting competition, and the enigmatic A-Hing – who since 1989 has dispatched several dozen noisesome canines – will emerge from the shadows to receive a Gold Bauhinia Star for his work.
Most of all, our dedicated officials are toiling away – whole departments of them – on the arrangements for the extremely thrilling Olympic torch, which will be paraded through the city by none other than our athletic Chief Executive, Donald Tsang.  Millions of people will line the streets, eager to catch a glimpse of the flame, prostrating themselves on the ground in awe as it passes.  Thousands of gallant policemen will have their leave cancelled to ensure no embarrassing Tibetan suicide bombers disrupt the passage of the sacred object, whose powers of healing and redemption surpass the Buddha’s tooth, the phial of Mary Magdalene’s blood or the pop-tart with Jesus’s face on it.  I will be abstaining from this ritualized collective mania.  I don’t even worship invisible things, but if I were devout I would go along with the Puritans and Muslims and refuse to bow down to graven images, icons or statues.
My suspicion that the black hands behind this ‘Olympic’ cult tightening its grip on the world have more than one of these burning baseball bats is confirmed by a photo of Kazakhstan’s kleptocratic ruler Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has taken a break from his busy schedule of nepotism, corruption and killing of critics and rivals to take part in a sinister mystical ceremony in which a tongue of fire is transferred from one torch to another.  Despite all this, I can’t help having a soft spot for any country whose national dish is boiled horsemeat and noodles.
AN EMAIL from resplendent Administrative Officer Winky Ip – who, if she were the ripened ovary of a plant, would perhaps be a sour grape or very bitter lemon – informs me that it is the day, not the fruit, that is joyful.  What can I say, except it is an honour to pay her National Hug A Mango Day colleagues’ air conditioning allowances and index-linked pensions-for-life.
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