House at Pooh Corner

House at Pooh Corner
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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Being Home

Where to begin.

Last Summer I wrote of how refreshing it was to be back in the UK ( see Hug A What Now?) & oh my, it was.  

But, to get my feet back on to, or into, the place, where I truly belong, well, there ain't nothing like it.

Whilst I am at home in the UK, HK IS Home. Not home (with a small 'h') right now, but Home.  

It is a cruel twist that in order to know where you belong, you have to leave it.

Also, after more than 20 years of living as one kind of Expat or another, I realise that you also don't have to live in a place to be part of it, or it you.   Like Family.  

This place speaks to me.
The sounds of the pneumatic drills, the unique roar of taxis, the double-deckers & mini-buses, the smells of food on the air, markets, the inside of IFC (never has a Mall smelt so good! If anyone can tell me what that is, I want my house to smell like that!).  

Me, I find the sounds of HongKong life comforting. Soothing.  

I can hear Hong Kong. HK speaks to me. Maybe because I am listening.
It isn't always pleasant, but I don't have to love everything about it, to love It. I understand it. The understandable bits. The bits I don't understand, I doubt any one else does either.  
And, it understands me.  I am a genuine Made In HongKong.

You either love Hong Kong, or you hate it.
Marmite Town.

AND, in a typically 1 Country 2 Systems, East Meets West, Yin Yang (yes, all the cliches) way, that thing that people love about it, others hate.  

Those that love it, call It Energy, Drive, Can (& DO), those that hate it use words like 'frenetic, rat race, materialistic, superficial'.  

Yes. It cannot be denied there is that, alot of that.

But also, I see the Colour, Life, Attitude (sometimes THAT could be dialled down) & richness (cultural, not $$).  

Some lament a lack of culture in this town. I am not sure to what they refer. Swanky art galleries? Chamber orchestras? Theatre? Seems no shortage to me.  

The culture I see all around is real living, joss stick burning, social media savvy, pop culture evolving, stuff.
The Old Ones observing the old ways, The Young Ones looking like they aren't but are, if you really look.  

Many superstitions and folk traditions are so entrenched, I fail to see HOW anyone can really think this town is devoid of culture.

The rules, the structure, the efficiency, whether it be bureaucratic interactions, public transport, eating out or the bill-paying etiquette. All frustrating and comforting, in equal measure.  

Everywhere has its contrasts but here, I seem particularly aware.  You can boggle at a HK$395, 000 watch in Central and, within a 20 min MTR journey, settle down to a DaiPaiDong dinner (street side restaurant) amongst a night market of knock-off 'back' massagers and handbags.

Coming Home for these visits are a lifeline. An anchor for the soul.

It knocks the scab that forms over our united homesickness but it is worth it.

I am blessed to have found someone who holds MarmiteTown as dear to his heart as I. He understands and loves the slightly off-the-wall childishness combined with the cynicism and confidence that eons of history both gifts and curses the collective psyche.  

We return to a room that has been mine since I was 7, and now, my nearly-7 year old sleeps next door.  We pilgrimage to roads where Trousers and I have individual & shared personal histories dating back to Miami Vice & Madonna hairstyles days. And beyond.  

But, we are not as unique as we once thought, for Hong Kong appears to have spawned a unique tribe. One that only fairly recently I have been aware.

The Tribe is made up of people who never really leave. They, physically, might but they never really let go completely.
They are the ones for whom HK has burrowed deep under their skin, set up home and refuses to ever leave.
A squatter. That demands to be heard.
A squatter, with rights. That will not be ignored

I stand to be corrected but I wonder if other countries have FaceBook groups titled 'I lived in xxxxxxxxxxxxx in the 70's' or 'xxxxxxxxxxxxx Was / Is/ Will Always Be My Home' etc.  

There are many of us. And the Tribe grows.

For now though, Me & He live somewhere else. Life is good there. We are glad of all the blessings it brings. For now.

One day though, we will run home.
And we will finally Belong again.

Friday, 11 April 2014

A Mystery in The Ladies

I have been using toilets for some time now.

Oh yes, I've used them all.

Foreign and Domestic. (Home - mine & at the homes of others)

On Aircraft. Trains, Restaurants (posh, smart casual and fast), Malls, Service Stations, Pubs, Clubs.

You get the idea.

Always the 'Ladies'.

Almost always, the 'Ladies'.

And one thing, one thing, remains constant and has remained a mystery.

The Queue.  

The queue in the 'Ladies' is invariably a substantial beast. And it is no friend of yours.

It snakes, It weaves its way, laboriously to the ultimate goal. Relief.  

Relief, because no one ever goes to a public lav unless they have to.

Everyone prefers to 'go' at home but, sometimes, in Life (& The Pub), things don't always go to plan & one of our great skills, HumanKind, is the ability to adapt.  

So, if you gotta go ...... You go.  

Now if you gotta go 'public', you are either bursting OR you are making a preemptive strike.  

If Urgency (see Bladder's Stretch Receptors on high alert, shrieking 'now, NOW you may have left it too late! I tried to tell you but, would you listen to me?!) is high, this particularly baffling phenomenon will not have escaped your notice.  

AND, if you don't reeeeeeeealllly need to be there but you are being sensible, you also, don't really want this to drag out for long. You don't really want to hang out here any longer than necessary.  

Whatever. Your Friends/Husband/Boyfriend/Whoever are waiting outside and People, we need to get on with this.  

And so, to get to the crux of my angst, I want to ask The Queue a question.  

In fact, more specifically, I want to ask the Ones in Front of me a question (next time, look back, look behind you, you may see my eyes asking of you that which they ask now) .........


WHY are you taking so frigging long in there when I can get in, and out in about 45 seconds!!!!!!!  

Granted, *AHEM* some things DO take a bit longer but MOST people are NOT doing THAT!  

So, pee already, flush & get out!!!!  

I am not dancing with excitement out here.

And some of us have a plane to catch.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

To punch a fly. In the face.

I am going to punch a fly in the face.

I am, y'know.  And I am not going to be sorry.

As a rule, I am not given to violence esp. physical, esp. against non-humans, but these guys are gettin' on my last nerve.

I don't know how this is going to go down but, if I end up in Court, I shall plead Provocation.

Yes. It is Fly Season in Dubai.

It might have escaped your notice - perfectly feasible, if you don't live in the middle of the desert, surrounded by goats and camels.  (Perhaps Flies don't commute to Suburbia?)

Ditto, if you are not a horse owner in this part of the world.

What this means is that, as it heats up, the Flies, that were either killed off or retreated to their Fly Wintering Retreat during the cooler months, are back.

And They want you to know.

When we get back up to the crazy 40+ temps again, they will, like so many other Dubai residents bugger off for the Summer.  The females ones anyway.

But, right now, They are back.

Invigorated  by their Sabbatical, with renewed vigour, they dance, nay shimmy mere centimetres from your eyes.

They play follow My Leader up my nose and, in some zzzzzzzzzzzzzty love-frenzy, tangle themselves in my hair.
Rolling around in there like that scene from From Here to Eternity.

But, not in black & white.  And with more buzzing.
And bigger eyes.

Bloody things.

Sometimes, and I have to say I find THIS particularly galling, (WARNING: look away now if of a sensitive disposition or easily shocked) ................................they land ............................. mid-coitus on the screen of my phone, on the keyboard on the desk, even on the chopping board (?????!!!!!), for crying out loud!!!!!!

Utterly ...... utterly ghastly.

When you woke up this morning,
you didn't think you would be looking
at pictures of bonking flies,
did you?
Be honest now.
See what I mean?

They ain't no Burt Lancaster & Deborah Kerr, are they?

errrrrrrrrrrghhhhhhh *shudder*

AND (and please forgive the vernacular but I am really quite irate now) ............ the Shitheads bite.

Yup.  Not content to just be Off-the-Scale Irritating with all the:

Flying into your Eyes,
Copulating on Inappropriate Surfaces (NB in this country, humans go to jail for that kind of thing. I'm just sayin') &
Insisting on Landing on You Time & Time again (in the exact same spot that you flapped them away from)

....... they are, currently, biting.

Biting me.
Biting my horse.
Biting the dogs.

I ask you, is all of this really necessary??!

If they would just back off.  Get on with being Flies somewhere, ANYwhere else, I could be Me over here and everyone would be happy.

I want to be all groovy.

I don't want to perform genocide.
I don't want to plot ways of catching and destroying and eradicating them from my world.

But I am.
and I do.

Provocation, m'lud.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Sh*t They Used To Tell Us

We've all heard them.
Many of us have heard the same ones.

But I bet you lot have got some crackers of your own to share!

I'll kick us off:

"Careful, if the wind changes you could stay like that"

Dual purpose.
Standard Usage: in an ACTUAL face-pulling scenario.

But also, somewhat unfairly, even for the Sulky Face.
The Sulky Face that comes when you feel you ARE the most badly-done-by kid in the world, because:

A) you can't go play at Donna's house cos it is Tuesday and it is 5:30pm.
B) you have had your quota of one bag of crisps a day and 2, well that is just madness
C) it is time for bed.

Oh, the injustice.

this is the precursor for what, in Adulthood,  is possibly THE most irritating ANYONE can say to you .......
especially when uttered by a chirpy, cheeky Saaaarf London chappie, on a train platform at the end of a lonnnnnnnnnng hard day .........

"Cheer up, love, might never 'appen!"


Don't swallow the pips or you'll get an apple tree growing out of your tummy button

Ditto having a dirty tummy button.

Although, in this situation, I seem to recall it was potatoes?  OR was that growing behind your ears?

Even now I look at those Devil May Care Adrenalin Freaks who  ................ *gasp* ..... eat the whole apple core* ........ as I do the Red Arrows and Base-Jumpers.
Dangerous thrill-seekers.

But then, (see previous) perversely, ........

Don't fiddle with your tummy button or you will get a tummy ache.

True, this.

Carrots will help you see in the dark.

I hate carrots.
My night vision is rubbish.


Go figure.

Eat your crusts, they will make your hair curly.

I hate crusts.
My hair is dead-straight.

They might have been on to something, y'know.

More studies required.

Don't sit on a cold floor, you will get piles 

What ARE piles? said the 6 year old Me.

Not very nice. Was the answer.  You don't want them.

You can't go to bed with wet hair, you will catch a cold.

Never mind that, what about the mad hair you will wake up with?

Wait an hour before you get back in the pool.

Never was an hour sooooooooooo slooooooooooowwwwwww.
Or the pool more inviting.

Also, your friends who all ate lunch before you are all having the best time EVER.  In that hour.

If you sit too close to the telly, you will get square eyes

Someone tell Blanche.
She doesn't believe me.

Now, these final few might be unique to those with Chinese family.
And I am willing to bet there are a whole heap more.

Clear your rice bowl; every grain of rice you leave will be a spot on your future husband.

I took the gamble.
Several times.
Turned out ok.

Not sure what I did to make him lose all his hair though.
Sorry, love.

They encourage it!!!

Don't sniff flowers, unless you want worms up your nose.

I can't, I just don't know what to say to this.

But it gave myself & my folks much amusement, to sniff flowers in front of my grandmother who would flap and shout 'Aiiiiiiiyaaaaaaaah!'. Alot.

If you pick your nose, you will get a big wide nose.

Loop hole:
Pinching your nose, post-pick, makes it all ok.

Can't wait to hear other people's contributions

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

"Oh. God. No...... Already?"

No one likes the Unwelcome Visitor.

You know the ones, they just turn up, they don't call ahead.  They just descend.

And, there are some visitors, even if you know they are coming, that fill you with dread.  Their imminent arrival makes you sigh. Alot.

(and who has been 'dropping in' way too much lately?)

My old not-so-friend, Insomnia.

Nope, no one says 'oh yay, I've got Insomnia coming over tonight'

But, sometimes, I feel sorry for Insomnia.

Little bit.

Insomnia has no friends. except Bad Irrational Thoughts.
Ever notice how BITs always seem to tag along with Insomnia?
The Hanger-On.  The 'Do You Mind If My Friend Comes Too' one.

Chirpy Productive Positive Vibes & Can Do Thoughts seem to eschew the hours of darkness. They are getting their rest at night too.

It is what keeps them fresh-faced and wrinkle-free.
BITs, Insomnia, and me have panda eyes, wrinkles of weariness & grumpiness in common.

Social Media, assuming you have friends in different time-zones (let us consider it an Expat Perk), will at least can help you feel less isolated and psychotic as they will be there, on FaceBook, Twitter or Whatsapp.

It is good to know they are there, when it feels like the whole freaking world has drifted off to a restful, healing, energising world of sleep and rest.

Except you.


The dog(s).
Even that bloody cat.

All snoozing. Deeeeeep relaxed breathing. Resting. Re-charging. (I kinda hate them a bit, right now)

And whilst I am on the subject, what, exactly, are those bloody animals re-charging for?
More daytime snoozes?
Yeah, steady on.

Maybe that once a day*, burst of energy?
A walk filled with happy shouts at birds & half-hearted attempts at rabbit chasing.
70 kg lummox vs 2 kg fleet-of-foot, thing built for speed. It ain't a fair contest.
The Lummox knows it.  The Fast-Thing with Big Ears knows it.

* NOTE: 'Once a day' because neither of them can be arsed to haul themselves out of their/my bed 

Poor things. What a day.

It has been months since I have had an unbroken night's sleep.  Maybe people don't anymore.  I know I am not unique.

HE seems to, mind.
I should know.
Feel like I have carried out enough random spot checks.
ANSWER: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

If it isn't Him snoring, it is the mosquitoes.

If it isn't one dog finding the most awkward (for me) place (for him) to sleep, it is the other one snoring.

If it isn't waking from the most horrific of dreams, nerves a'jangling, it is the BITs creeping into my brain, with their strobe-lights and crack-strength caffeine to make sure I stay with them.
"Bitch, you ain't goin' nowhere."

Am I angry?
Yeah! I'm fffffffing angry!

I want to sleep.
I want to wake up feeling better than when I went to bed.
I'd like to bounce out of bed, and say "Hiya, New Day, whaddaya got me?!"

Instead of:
"Oh God.

For more angry, sleep-deprived ravings see Letter To Insomnia

Monday, 17 February 2014

The Neknomination Equation

The Neknomination Equation is a convenient & oh, so simple, Societal, shall we say, 'Sorter'.

I am confident that the Results show significant statistical accuracy.

Doing a Neknomination = 
"ooooooo, look how crazy & dangerous I am" = Embarrassing Loser.

There's more.

If you are:

< 25 years old - *pssssssssssssst*
                          Sweetie, you look ridiculous.
                          No, really, Honey, you ARE being ridiculous.
                          All you are doing is showcasing Your Ridiculous

> 25 years old - *rolls eyes*
                          Have a word with yourself, would you?
                          Surely by now you have grown out the "look at me, everyone! I drink booze.
                          I must be sooooooooooo cool" part of your life.
                          Shame.  Most of us were done with that by about 18*

*adjust to 22 yrs old if you are a male of the species

Fact - There is a positive correlation between how loudly a Person declares how c-razy & 'fun' they are, with their embarrassing need to compensate for something.
(Note: we can all see it, y'know)

or, to simplify:

As (A) is to "Hey look at me, aren't I crazy?!"

so (B) is to  "It's all a bit pathetic, isn't it?"

Just to finish:

Hey, Pretty Girl, taking your clothes off in a supermarket to 'neck' a can of whatever.  It is pointless.  All we can see your bum AND your Stoopid.

Hey, Assorted People, 'necking' pints of repugnant alcoholic abominations, in quantities that very actually might kill you & then, doing a 'stunt' that might also do the same - is it worth it?
Would your Mummy be proud of you?

I don't really want to talk about this much more.
The subject matter is in danger of infecting me with its pointless vapidity.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

The Legend of Shep - International Travel, Forbidden Love &, finally, Healing

He is a sheep & his name is Shep.

His roots - Worthing, Sussex.

Sussex in England (in case there are others).

It was Summer when we met. The Summer of 1977.

We have not be separated since.

From 1977 till, I think it was 2003, we have never travelled without each other (apart from those 72 hours in Boston).

Even through the University Years with all HK-UK, UK-HK flights, Shep was my Tonto to his Ke-mo Sah-Be, in my hand luggage, jammed in with the green apples & chedder (standard in-flight sustenance of the period).

Many, MANY, were the eyebrows  raised at Hand Luggage Security Check at LHR.  I would, in return, raise my chin, meet them straight in the eye.

"Yes? I know", I would haughtily respond, "His name is Shep."

He was my Security Sheep but that wasn't all.

Shep even enhanced the attributes of the Window Seat (the Seat of Choice).

I digress for a second:
The Window Seat, affords One privacy and, instantly reduces, by 50%, the battleground for the inevitable elbow/arm-rest territorial combat.
An agonising scenario for the British, especially for those of the 'We Don't Like To Touch Strangers' variety.

I could jam Shep in the gap, up against the wall, and hey presto, snoozy-dribbly happiness.  PRIVATE snoozy-dribbly happiness.
If that one by the window had a Shep or equivalent,
see how much more comfy that picture would be?

Shep travelled with me to every student house I ever occupied.

Shep has been by my side in 3 hospital beds.

And, Shep has cruised.  An Alaskan cruise (yup, Shep made it all the way to Anchorage).

There was even a 72 Hour, Lost in Boston incident, of which he has never since spoken.

We shall never know what happened during that time but, let us not belittle the distress a certain 24 year old endured on the road to Kennebunkport when his absence was discovered.

Nor the joyful reunion.

Thank you, Housekeeping Team of Marriott, Boston 1993.


Things have not always been easy for Shep.

There were the tearful Teenage Years.
There were multiple 'Woe Is Me, We Should Listen To The Smiths Now' & 'My Life is a Nightmare cos' I am Missing the School Disco' incidences.

He weathered them, unscathed.

He also survived the Student Years, unharmed. Stronger for it, probably.

That which does not kill us ..... etc etc etc.  Ditto, me.

And then, Alan came into our lives.

This is Alan.

Alan had designs on Shep.

Carnal designs.

Unhealthy. Unnatural designs.

First time we noticed it, we said "oh sweet. Look, Alan is giving Shep a hug".

Alan was NOT giving Shep a hug.

Trousers said "Is he .....................?"

Me: "NO! God. Gross. Of course he isn't!"

Moments later.

Me: "OH!!!!! God!! Yes HE IS!!! Alan, stop it!!! Stop it, Alllllll-aaaaaaannnnnn, st-oppppppppppp!!!!"

So, what to do? We had to do what we could to keep them apart.

But, one day, Alan 'got' to Shep.

And this happened:
(WARNING: Those of a nervous or sensitive disposition, look away now)

Injuries incurred 
Yes. Alan literally sh**ged the stuffing out of Shep.  Shep was sh@gged to pieces.


But, all is not lost.

Take heart, Dear Reader.


Some years (& Alan too, in fact) have passed since The Great Unpleasantness

Alan did show greater restraint in his latter years.

But, sad to say, however, Shep never quite recovered.  And, I am ashamed that I never sought help for Shep.

Until today.

I should have done it sooner, granted.  Trousers IS a vet but ... I didn't.

Until today.


Thank you, Dear Colleagues.
We shall not forget your kindness & patience.

We ask for some privacy at this emotional time, while Shep and I process the trauma & dramatic developments of today.
We are confident that our future is bright & that one day, we will be able to travel together again. 


Together Again


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