Our Town Now

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Photo credits: Peterlamphotography.com

Gentleman-about-town Russell Clarke Smith has been taken ill. Seriously, we fear. Russell was one of the town’s quiet presences often seen sitting outside Steamers or in the window at Poets with a small beer, one of the few he allowed himself each day while enjoying his cigarettes. Often he wore a thick brown sweater. Russell has a long face with craggy features. He seemed lost in his thoughts and didn’t say much unless you made an effort and spoke to him. Then you found a friendly educated man eager to talk. Russell is a 70-year-old retired surveyor who wrote poetry and an autobiography. Friends say he has been felled by cancer. Two sons have taken him back to England and his wife, Sally, has gone to join him.

LATEST NEWS: We regret to report that Russell has died. Well liked, well regarded, a good and nice man. RIP Russell.

Our Town Now can reveal Sai Kung is home to a man with the world’s best job. He designs bras for a famous lingerie brand. Hungry Joe-like we zeroed in on this fascinating fact pretty quick. In designing bras does he use mannequins or real models? we asked. Real models, he said. Mo Wong Goon wanted to know how much he would charge us to be his fitting assistant. Modestly, he won’t let us tell you his name or that of his company. It gets worse, or better, depending on your point of view. His drinking mate is in charge of the new Hooters opening on the island. He has to choose staff with the right, ahem, attributes. No wonder they both look so smug.

You have to feel for struggling retailers in this town. The new shop Shing Viet next to Burger Deli where the alleyways cross is run by Mr Goh. Correction: Was run by Mr Goh. It has closed already. He was paying rent of $55,000 a month, while serving big bowls of noodles with tasty goodies for about $50. His mini-restaurant had only eight seats.  The FEHD burons charged him for putting tables outside. He was fined $1500. Why harass a little entrepreneur like Mr Goh, when the waterfront restaurants get away with it all the time? Picking on the powerless — that’s what burons do. His dream shattered, Mr Goh is now an employee again, managing a Kowloon Tong restaurant.

Another Zlin 242L, identical to one in which a Hong Kong Aviation Club instructor died, will soon be seen in the skies over Sai Kung. With the insurance money, the Club has ordered another one from the Czech factory. The instructor called MT failed to recover from a practice spin and was killed when the aircraft hit the water in Tolo Harbour.  It was the first fatality in a club aircraft in living memory. There are good reasons for ordering the same type of aircraft: it’s so ruggedly built — some pilots say it’s like a tractor — and is ideal for training and aerobatics. Also given the precedent certification by the CAD will be easier. But some club members wonder how many of the more superstitious pilots will be put off flying a widow-maker.

Rick Ney, the rotund American Head Chef at short-lived .COM restaurant on Po Tung Road, has been spotted in Yangon. He is advising on restaurant projects for developers in the Myanmar city. It wasn’t because of Rick’s food that .COM shut. His comfort food was good enough to write home about or, these days, put on Facebook. .COM went under because of high rent ($150,000 a month) complaints, loss of licence and disillusioned backers shutting up their chequebooks.

Political connections grease the wheels of commerce, The Economist says in its Crony Capitalism Index. “Individuals earn their riches thanks to their chumminess with the Government.”This made us recall a conversation with renegade District Councillor Christine Fong. SAI KUNG BUZZ asked her how many of our district councillors are there in her opinion for altruistic reasons and how many are there for the business advantages. She said, “About half and half”.

What has gone wrong at the Hong Kong Golf and Tennis Academy?  It should have opened months ago. Something has come unstuck.  The netting hung from the ghastly towers got ripped and torn free by the wind. But something deeper is amiss. Word on the street is the developer has got embroiled in a land dispute with local villagers. Work on the pretend sports academy has ground to a halt.

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