House at Pooh Corner

House at Pooh Corner
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Monday, 28 April 2014

Evil Octopus

Evil. Not Drunk.
I love Drunk Octopus.
But DO I wanna fight Evil Octopus.
(Or ... Don't Fly with a Cold.)

Inside my head is an evil Octopus.

Evil Octopus is inside my head.
It has all its feet on the inside of my skull, and, it is pushing.




There are 2 feet against my temples.
They are Pushing.

Another 2 are behind my ears, the bony bit.
Pressing. Hard.

2 more are either side of my nose, just under my eyes.

One foot threatens to come through the top of my head.
And the other, through the back.

I know it is an Evil Octopus because I am also leaking vast VAST quantities of mucus through the sole remaining open channel from the inside of my skull to the Outside World.  My nose.

Evil Octopus slime.
Has to be.

No other explanation.

Doctor says Acute Sinusitis.
What does he know.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Foot Massages - 98% ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Foot Massages:
95%    ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ......
 3%     OOOO! Hey, that is a bit sore. Must be doing something good though.
 2 %    Holy cr#p, that hurts!!!!!!!!!!! Stop! STOP! The pain!! Oh, the pain!!
           Mustn't move. Mustn't move.

In a recent census (By me. Of my Friends and Relations), it seems we are divided into Foot SqueezyPhiles and Foot SqueezyPhobes.

Me, I love 'em.

But (and there is a 'but'), for the Unitiated, there is something you need to know.

Those ladies (& men, actually) with their penetrating fingers and relentless knuckles of reinforced steel are capable of seeking out the teeniest tiniest point of Ouchy, wherever it might try and hide itself.

The bit at the base of your big toe nail? Gotcha.
The tendony bit under the arch of your foot. FOUND you.
Those bits, under your toes, where the balls of your feet start to become your toes. There's nowhere to hide, Ouchy.

Come out with your hands up, Ouchy bit.
You might as well give up, because she is going to keep at you till you melt away into smooth non-ouchy grooviness.

Just so long as I can stop flinching, and refrain from crying.

It was busy in there today. 6 out of the 7 seats were occupied with people at various stages in their massage.

A real mix of people today.
Gweilos and Chinese.
Young(ish) people in flipflops (it is a Public Holiday, Easter Sunday, in fact).

Late middle-aged Chinese Business Man hung his suit jacket up and measuredly removed his work socks and shoes before settling in for the Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.(unfortunately it seems he blotted his copy book by, at some point before I arrived, conducting a number of very loud 'business' phone conversation. 
The Food Squeezing Team did not approve. 
And, on his departure, They talked about it.  A lot)

We were all there. Together, next to each other.

I can only imagine that 10 years in the Middle East has played havoc with my Factory Settings as, I was shocked to notice that I had even noticed the fact that Men & Women were seated (& being Squeezed) side-by-side.
AND that the Squeezers doing the Squeezing were Men & Women.

No reason why they shouldn't be.
I just noticed that I had noticed. 11 years ago, I wouldn't have.

So tranquil, in the Palace of Foot Squeezing.  There are no shortage of such places, all over HongKong. Crammed into the tiniest of spaces, so practical and yet, a haven.

A decadent luxury with an air of practicality, which helps One feel a bit less frivolous indulging in this bliss.

Outside, double-deckers & mini-buses whoosh and grind their way passed the front window. the sheerest of bamboo blinds separate the Outside World from us in here.

The Inter-Foot-Squeezers banter is cheerful & slightly ribald (handy thing, this not looking like they expect you to understand the lingo).

Birds tweet, hypnotically (CD volume at exactly the right level).

The Rose Bud Tea (or water) feels cleansing and refreshing.

The large bamboo tub, full of warm, scented frothy water kicks us off and is my green light to surrender to the next blissful 50 minutes of ...... Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh (only a little bit of: Ouch!)

The hot scented towels wrapped round my feet, enough to induce a coma. 

Now ........  zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

........zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz............................................. *YEEEEOWWWWWW! ..............

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.


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