“Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky-tacky.” The 1962 Malvina Reynolds song was a political satire on the development of suburbia and conformist middle-class attitudes, what we would now call political correctness.
Man Wai Road has gone all boxy. It is plagued by architecture that’s just blah. The Hong Kong Academy’s big brown boxes are now complemented by the little brown and white boxes of the new hotel. The hotel’s shrouds have come off, revealing its cubical look. Perhaps the architecture will make sense when we get to see the inside.
That may be a long time coming. Read between the lines and it appears the directors of Cheer Regal Ltd, owner of the hotel, are in the mother of all cat-fights. They can’t agree on anything, not the name, not the theme, not even how many bars and restaurants. The hotel’s opening date keeps getting pushed back, now to the first half of 2019. Maybe it will be worth the wait.
What to do about egotists who believe everyone out there on social media is dying to see multiple photos of them day after day? The kind of people who suffer from rampant narcissism. Everyone wants to look at me, me me, ME! The late Sir David Tang had the answer. He said give them a Christmas or birthday present of a hand mirror with Icarus scrawled across it in lipstick. If that does not make them think and change their behaviour, David wrote, they are beyond redemption. A favourite cartoon about egotism shows a bloke tied to a stake and looking at a firing squad taking aim at him. He says to the soldiers, “So we are agreed… this is all about me!”
Strange the things people say. Jogging on Yung Shue O Road above the sea I meet a couple coming the other way. The bloke gives me a smile, “Good morning.” “Joe san, dai lo”, I say. He gives me a big grin, “I am Manager.” Yes, I think. And you’ve got the IQ of a ham sandwich. He reminded me of the British comedy character who refers to his wife as Mrs Marketing Director.
Taxi drivers. We had one the other day. He rubbed his arm, neck and face obsessively. He stamped often on the accelerator with no reason. Repeatedly he asked if we are going the right way. Neurotic as a box full of frogs. Then there was the guy who waved both hands over the steering wheel at considerable speed without actually touching it. He had Hong Kong Foot too. Jerk, jerk, jerk. Jerk. If you live in the countryside you will have noticed the characters who drive at night at breakneck speed in the well-lighted, busy-traffic streets of town. But when they arrive in the dark, quiet roads of the countryside, they go, Wooo! and slow right down.
Every morning the little dog upstairs cries. It is pitiful. Yap, yap, yap. Don’t leave me, don’t leave me, don’t leave me! The grill opens and crashes shut. The couple leave. Upstairs the little dog goes quiet, defeated, alone for hours now. We offered to look after it while the couple was away. No response. Never in years here have we seen the dog walked or taken outside at all.
Does Starbucks Sai Kung make you mad? Me too. They have very good salads with salmon and yogurts with berries, but they are so often sold out. Another annoyance: you have to clean your table yourself of crumbs and spillage. It is not the fault of the staff. They’re all nice people. What’s wrong with Starbucks? Total lack of management. In Starbucks, I feel like having a rant and a rave, but like Clive, I end up “astonished at my own moderation”.