Archive for May, 2007

No Paternity Leave in Hong Kong. Very International…

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

Me and The Wife Yesterday


Seeing as Hong Kong trades on being ‘international’ then it may be a good idea to have ‘international’ standards. I hope I don’t sound like the myriad of other tedious ‘’have you ever noticed…’’ observational style blogs when I write this BUT have you ever noticed that men get zero paternity leave in Hong Kong? That’s right, not one pitiful day off work when your child is born. You have to take it out of your annual leave. Your holiday, meaning the two weeks you spend with a sprog can result in no holiday for an entire 12 months. Other ‘international’ destinations have basic laws that allow men to spend, horror of horrors, two weeks with pay in the company of their new born. Some countries, the Swedes for example, throw a paid month at the man and the Aussies get two weeks unpaid which is a kind of a halfway house but none the less some acknowledgement that a man has needs. America, Europe, Japan and Australia show that major economies are developed enough to be ‘civilised’. Alas Hong Kong is just an economy but socially underdeveloped. How can Hong Kong be taken seriously if it continues to play hardball with basic human rights. This is a problem that Hong Kong needs to face up to and is a barometer of the way it is regressing back into a Chinese mindset. I doubt the concept of paternity leave has ever entered the Chinese psyche as a concept until very recently so it will take a while for any real changes to formulate. I estimate there will be some shift in laws around 2087 judging by my experience of this ‘dynamic’ society. So let us ponder why Hong Kong cannot attract experienced and desirable overseas leaders in other field apart from commerce.

The reasons are simple, money aside, there are more cons than pros in terms of rights, lifestyle and environment conditions when it comes to living on this rock. OK, OK, single or young couple? Hong Kong can tick all the right boxes, but try and move on from a mid-20′s nirvana and then things become a little more sticky. Past this daydream there are fights to get decent healthcare, clean air, education, space and out-the-box thinking. However if getting pissed, buying clothes and eating out everyday is your bag then this is a Mecca. There are pluses and minuses with every city but right now the idea of being poorer but with some semblance of a life rather than wealthy but with no rights or redress is very tempting. I’m even thinking of jacking it all in and moving back to the UK (it’ll never happen) or Singapore (tempting). If you take me as an example of an experienced expat who can knock out brilliant handbags and brought over here to do that very thing and now, month 9, I am thinking of throwing in the towel not because Hong Kong is shit per se but because the important things in life, things money cannot buy, are not available here. Yes, we are preggers by the way

Expat Bloggers make me want to smoke crack

Sunday, May 20th, 2007

Middle Class Couple


I came to Hong Kong to escape the middle class buffon. Those wannabe Tim-Nice-But-Dim’s that clogged up the streets of our Kensington neighbourhood were really getting on my tits. Of course there were other reasons for our departure from the UK but the middle class yearning that ran rampant through the UK in latter part of the 80’s and right through the 90’s was really too much to bear. So imagine my surprise when a quick breeze through the ex-pat Hong Kong blogging community finds this festering mould alive and well here in dear old honkers. Shacked up in their Discovery Bay enclaves they churn out the same honky-orientated observational drivel. Why Tim do you think you are the first person to notice that the residents of Hong Kong walk slowly? Why Tim do you think you are the first person to notice the MTR is busy? Why Tim do you think nobody has ever noticed the fact that the language barrier is a real pain and the fact they think differently makes the Cantonese inferior? The problem with bloggers is that any Tom, Dick or Tim can put their meandering, tiresome and painfully unfunny ‘’observations’’ out there and, that my friends, is never a good thing. I feel a deep embarrassment when I read the nauseating and pointless daily entries by people that are nonentities in reality and hide smugly behind their laptops in Starbucks bashing out naff quips and quite frankly racist banter. I think we need to clear one thing up for these comedic geniuses; HONG KONG IS NOT LIKE THE UK. HONG KONG IS NOT LIKE AMERICA. IT’S A DIFFERENT PART OF THE WORLD. IF you accept this logic then please, Mr. Not Original, do attempt to refrain from pointing out the differences in a negative ‘’this is shit, that is shit’’ fashion. If is indeed shit then please, pretty please, take the first plane out of here. I myself have struggled over the last few months to understand the mindset of Asia and specifically the Cantonese but my rants are specific to me – they are not generalised clichéd puns and quips based around the fact wearesodifferentlikenobodyhasnoticedthatbefore.

I struggle here but not from a remote point of view but as somebody trying to integrate. I have Cantonese friends, I am learning the lingua and most of my life is a million times better for not meeting a thousand Tim’s every fucking day. Alas, via the magic of the interweb these characters again thrust their cyber Ford Focuses into my lane and chat foolishness. This is Hong Kong and it is 2007 and I understand why our Cantonese brothers hate the white man. By some fortune of birth these Tim’s have had privilege and opportunity scattered at their feet and the best they can do is be posted in some mid management role in HSBC in the fragrant harbor. The bad news for us is that we have to put it with them clogging up the streets and now the internet. If you must post your dirge Tim please make original. You are an embarrassment.

Phone Home

Saturday, May 12th, 2007

ET Yesterday

Another week draws to an end in the Handbag factory. I told the Americans, in a very crude manner despite my best intentions to let them down gently, that I won’t be joining them. Again. There is no good way to reject their offer so it was best just to come out with it. On top of this I have a ‘headhunter’ who keeps calling me and wishes to meet for a ‘çhat’. I keep putting him off but I will have to meet just to satisfy my curiosity as to whom he is and the amazing jobs he has lined up. They will have to be good jobs as I now like life at the factory. After the initial freak out, as witnessed in some of my more abrasive posts down the page, I have found a new higher state of consciousness where I am more live and let live. My Cantonese co-workers are now, very very slowly, warming to me. It’s kind of like Elliot tempting ET out of the shed with M&M’s; I leave my knowledge and experience sweets dotted around the shop floor and one by one they pick them up and end up in my bedroom seeking further pearls of wisdom. But I must be careful not to shout or make sudden gestures that may shake the very fragile trust I have built up with them over the last few weeks. Any hint of non-conformist thinking and/or questioning of authority may send them running back so I must tread carefully. As I already explained, previous attempts to change the system through sheer force nearly got me the sack so I’ll do things their way but adding my own flashes of brilliance. Once they get a taste they won’t want to look back. I also like the air on the south side of the island. Yesterday, despite the heat, the weather was very gray and overcast but, via the taxi to work from my Central home, the skies turned blue and summer was again in the air. I had lunch and a nap in the park under the blue sky and listened to the birds tweet and the world pass by. You cannot do that in Central.

After a hard week, and despite my best intentions to save money I decided to buy a Rolex. Not sure why I did so but for me it was a symbolic gesture. It marks a certain part of my life and if all ends tomorrow then I’ll have something as a tribute to these heady days. It’s a vanity purchase of course but not a pointless one like buying a TV or a computer as it will hold its value. I can always sell it for food when times get hard. With it though brings an extra headache and I have to care about it unlike my Swatch which I could lose without caring. I just hope I can keep hold of it forever without losing it. I am an idiot.

Peoples Instictive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm

Thursday, May 10th, 2007



Peoples Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm dropped in 1990, that’s 17 years ago pop pickers. Around this time De La Soul had just re-invented hip hop with 3ft High which featured various guest appearances from, among others, members of the Native Tongues family whose members included ATCQ. Save for a stunning verse on a track called In Time, tucked away on the B-Side of I’ll House You, not much of Q-Tip we knew. Q-Tip looked like a hippy, as did all of ATCQ at this time, and, because of the luxury of being a Native Tongue, was allowed a certain creative license basking in the De La glow that was all consuming. Feted by the press an expectant crowd gathered and Peoples Instinctive Travels was released. The great thing about this era was the expectation that a group was to be experimental, different and groundbreaking. Nothing less would have sufficed and it was seen as passé to be state of the art, artists had to push the envelope now De La had thrown down the gauntlet of a musical revolution. Was it a surprise that ATQC sampled Lou Reed’s ode to transvestites Walk on the Wild Side? No, rap was a creative tool and minds were open to anything as long as it was able to chopped, shaped and squeezed into the Hip Hop template.



Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

Fake Handbags


The Americans have just called me offering me a job. Better company than my current Cantonese Handbag Factory employer. Let me explain, a few months ago my current employers started acting the fool after I had stamped my authority too hard on the slack jawed work force. I was fresh from London and had no idea how the Cantonese did things, indeed how poor they were at making handbags. In Europe we have a rare and much sought after commodity called CREATIVE THINKING where we make handbags from scratch. In fact, we invent the CONCEPT of handbags and then refine the use and consider things such as the quality of manufacture, the image it projects, the form and the function and WHY does it need to exist in the first place. All good Handbag manufacturers should be able to answer any constructive criticisms of their handbag design as a test to the durability and integrity of the creation. I started this dialogue when I on my first day as it’s par for the course in Londres but it didn’t go down a storm here simply because my company has NO IDEA why they make handbags THEY JUST DO. And the Handbags my company churns out are made the way they are because they just COPY COPY COPY successful handbags. That’s all they, and now I, do all day, knock out imitation handbags. My colleagues remonstrate ” but this is a classical style handbag” or ” this is an Art Deco” handbag without knowing ANYTHING about classical traditions or the Art Deco movement. What is classical? Well there are all these funny looking columns and some statues of David. But why have a column and why does it look like that? They haven’t a clue. My co-workers brains don’t go further than the superficial layer. Questioning their designs brings forth giggles and/or embarrassment.


Good Day Sunshine

Monday, May 7th, 2007

Aberdeen Yesterday

After a quick breeze around Aberdeen I’m feeling a bit more benevolent today. First things first, Aberdeen is, what we call in the trade, a shit hole. Ok, ok, maybe not all of Aberdeen is but the ”town center” undoubtedly is. Unless, of course, you have Hong Kong tinted glasses on which case all of honkers is one groovy east-meets-west-Asian-European-nirvana however, those of us in the real world know that Aberdeen houses the poor and is seldom in the guide books save for the floating turd Jumbo restaurant. Anyway, the sun has got his hat on and it is boiling hot on the rock of Hong Kong . THIS is why we came, to escape the drudgery and misery of the UK and, for a bit of currant bun. Since the turn of the year it has been pretty miserable, but today it has picked up considerably and I predict it to continue all week as sun like this doesn’t just disappear overnight. My walk to Aberdeen central was transformed into a pleasant stroll in the sun where I laughed and danced with the locals who welcomed me with open arms and warm, warm smiles. So, here is to the first day of summer, to more exploration of Aberdeen, to stop moaning about things beyond my abilities to change and to September when we can move apartments and where I can re-evaluate my current employment situation. It’s going to be the summer of grind albeit in fantastic weather which you don’t get in the central areas thanks to Mr. Smog and Mrs. Pollution. Every cloud has a silver lining. I love Aberdeen.

Fog on the Tyne is all yours, all yours

Monday, May 7th, 2007

village idiot

Glenn ‘medieval village idiot’ Roeder has decided to the decent thing and kill himself, leaving the path wide open for Sam ‘Victorian Mill Owner’ Alladyce to step in and, once again promise another New Dawn.   Every season Newcastle supporters genuinely believe that this season is going to be The One and each season they get crushed under the feet of the Big Four leaving poor Jawdee folk scratching their heads, wondering where it all went wrong and coming up with their own Final Solution – Sack The Manager.   It’s the war cry of most supporters when things go wrong but for the Jawdees it’s all they know.  It’s their mantra.   Jawdees can never see past their own noses and maybe if, just if, they cast their dead eyes a bit higher they would see a board that appoints and sacks managers like contestants on a game show.   Even though the club chairman called all jawdee women ”dogs” and (correctly) stated that grown men buying the clubs overpriced replica kits were idiots, the jawdess are still demanding managerial blood rather than that of the puppet masters.   Don’t get me wrong, I love the Newcastle soap opera so I’m all for keeping the current incumbents just where they are and long may they continue to do so.   I predict that, after an initial patch of success, the Jawdees under Allardyce will again be playing dull, route one football, only this time not in front of half-a-dozen Bolton chavs but instead thousands of millions of over expectant, emotionally retarded jawdee folk that will demand, as soon as Fat Sam strides through the revolving door, that the win the Premiership, Champions League and the FA Cup,  and if, surprise surprise, he doesn’t then Sam Out.  Newcastle is the most deadly, and most common, variety of the Premiership deadly chalices, and we should enjoy Fat Sam next season before his inevitable tin tac and the making way for contestant number 23432 to step up and play Newcastle Manager.

Wall Street

Saturday, May 5th, 2007

Wall Street

One of the best films ever is Wall Street and it is with deep joy that I hear a sequel is now being planned. Along with the eighties nostalgia, big hair and scathing attacks on Reaganomics the best thing about the film is Mr Evil Capitalist himself Gordon Gekko. Douglas was perfect for the role and he seemed to embody the power dressing late eighties in looks alone and his performance should have copped that Oscar. Perhaps the biggest legacy of Wall Street are the quotes that have now entered popular culture with the misquoted ‘’greed is good’’ and ‘’lunch is for wimps’’ thrown around when talk turns to yuppies and the latter end of the 80’s. I love the quotes and still use them to this very day in my office despite the fact that all irony is completely lost on my Cantonese colleagues meaning they either think I am serious or a psychopath. This is how it should be. So when I feel sorry for myself as my colleagues go for lunch en masse for some fried something or other I am again reminded of Gekko; ‘’No feelings. You don’t win ‘em all, you don’t love ‘em all, you keep on fighting and if you need a friend, get a dog’’


Saturday, May 5th, 2007

fat jawdee

I cannot stop spending money. For the first time in my life I have disposable income to burn and there is no end to the amount of consumer tat that you can throw your dollars at here in Hong Kong. I’m now buying things on a whim that I would have spent weeks agonising over back in Londres. The problem is that I am not on a serious amount of wedge to able to buy useful things like cars, yachts or property but I have enough to buy say a Rolex (cheap one) or some other cheap-end high-end consumer tosh. The problem with Hong Kong , as in most of Asia, is that the such a huge gap in wealth that you can only buy something A) very expensive or B)very cheap. In clothing terms you can either buy Gucci or rags, a Rolls Royce or bike, an eight course banquet or some shit in a tray. There is no middle ground and the same can be said for salaries and, although compared to the bankers and lawyers that would laugh their Prada pants off at my meagre earnings, I am earning far and away more than my contemporaries back home with less expenditure now Her Indoors has now found gainful employment. So what to do with this surplus money? The smart thing is to save but that is v boring so my rule of thumb is save half spend half. Even then I struggle to spend that half on anything meaningful so I fritter it away on shit just to give me some consumerist hit. My current drug is clothing and I am splashing out on threads I previously couldn’t afford JUST BECAUSE I CAN. I think it’s some childhood thing coming out and I am now determined to hold on to the money from now on. A fool and his money and all that

Live Earth

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007


Live Earth? Personally I had NO IDEA there was a problem with the environment and I just hope a load of self-righteous, pompous dinosaur ”pop stars” and radical ”new bands” can spread the word of climate change by this huge concert that will change THE LIVES OF MILLIONS. I mean, if nobody gave a tom-tit about greenhouse gasses then Madonna on stage belting out Like A Virgin will CHANGE THE WORLD. Come on people, join the REVOLUTION