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PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2016 1:44 pm 
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Location: Pak Kok Village
Dressing up for the family ~ 5/11/2016

by Nick the Bookman, photos by Joan H George

"I haven't been this nervous since the time I had to do my first interview after starting work at RTV News mid-May 1974"... (Well, that's more or less the opening remark of an impromptu speech I made at The Hong Kong Club on 5/11/2016). Wait! What! Back up. You made a speech? At the Hong Kong Club? Tell us more. O.K.

Marilena and I have been invited to a distinguished, yet cozy, gathering at the aforementioned Club to celebrate my sister Melle's 60th Birthday and 36th Wedding Anniversary. Probably about 60 people or ranging from old school friends from Quarry Bay Primary School to more recent acquaintances strewn throughout the following five decades. Said acquaintances being all of Melle and Mike's invitees with some overlapping mutual friends. Quite a lot locally-based and a few others from foreign shores and climes. So far, so simple. Here's the catch...

To gain entrance to the hallowed halls I Have To Wear A Suit. Well, Slacks and a Jacket. No Tie needed. I am FORBIDDEN (in a Capital Letters, shout) to wear tracksuit leggings, jeans, bicycle shorts, spandex, tights, thongs and you get the drift. I've got to Dress to Impress for this occasion or I won't get past the Clothes Nazis on the front door. Marilena opted as usual for the traditional LBD ensemble with frills and adornments and how gorgeously she carried it off. I thought I had something somewhere in the cupboard, but nope, nothing there. So, the night before, Marilena went to Zara and bought a lovely black shirt and matching black slacks for a hideously expensive (to me) amount just shy of HK$600. Almost emptied our coffers. Alas, they're two sizes too small. SHIT! And the clock is ticking...ticking...ticking...

I've been up most of the night pondering the puzzle, debating the dilemma. What to do? Obviously at some point today (5/11/2016) I have to return the clothes to Zara. Get the cash back. Is it worth traversing the lanes for new trews? Would Causeway Bay be cheaper to get togged out? Maybe I can go and burgle the Clothes Bank opposite the 'Tinhead. Tried that. Nothing in there. What would I say if anyone asked what I was doing? Yeah, took some clothes down recently and I think I left lots of money in a trouser pocket. Spark a riot among helpful passing pedestrians. All wanting to help find my non-existent funds.

So my impromptu (but possibly divinely guided) expedition is a bust. Walking back home I stop outside the Blue Goose and see Ciaran buying a coffee. I eye him up and down and he mock ferociously admits he's getting a bit of a bulgy belly. Which other people might have remarked upon and are you about to do the same? I say, not at all. I was just wondering how to ask you an embarrassing question. To wit: Can I Borrow Your Trousers? He almost drops his coffee in shock. Or chokes on it. Or something. After explanations are made, he says there's no problem. Come back to my store room/office. And he finds me not one, but two, Clowny-Groovy suits to try on. Mission accomplished. Job done. And it's not even 10 a.m. Next task is to get the money back from Zara. That's done by noon...

So to recap: Ciaran the Clown has kindly consented to clothe me, your coy cyberscribe, for this collaborative cornucopia at the Club. Charming company with chow that is not to be chundered up. Cold Cuts, curry and ice cream all there for the consuming. Champagne to quaff. Chatty conversations. Clock ticking down to cease and desist time and the last chance to catch the aquatic carriage home.

So, after a strained stroll to the Club from the ferry, which diverged wildly from the normal path I would have taken. Can't explain why. Marilena still has some pain from her hip operation and one of her shoes kept slipping off. I'm walking at her pace and my left knee is locking up. The usual path we've tried to follow - (Up the escalator. Through the IFC to The Mandarin. Out and along the road to HKC) - seems to be topologically twisted beyond any simple traverse. Basically we're the last to arrive. And when we do get to the room, there's a stunned hush upon our entry and then greetings are given. The Suit Has Conquered All. Random remarks are exchanged. Circumlocutory conversations ensue. The Buffet is brilliant. Like I said, Cold Cuts. Hot dishes like a seafood stew, lasagne, Indian curry with condiments, chops, roast beef and a superlative ham. Plus ice cream and bread pudding for dessert. The Club's serving staff are uniformly excellent. Their anticipation in keeping glasses filled and refilled is staggering. Not a jot of a tittle of a hint of an iota of a wasted gesture or movement. Basically Not A Manuel Moment Anywhere or Everywhen. Kudos all round.

Apologies now for not getting many names into this story. Basically, everyone is in the SpaceTime Memory Bubble Matrix contained within the walls, partitions and doors of The Harcourt Room Experience. 5/11/2016. Guy Fawkes Night. Between 1930 and 2359 HKT and drifting into tomorrow. And to commemorate this pinnacle of life moment, I have brought a book for Melle and Mike. A small tribute. It's Keith Macgregor's photographs of HK between the Seventies and Turn of The Millennium. My, how HK has changed over the course of the book. Marilena and I have signed it and my plan is to get everyone else to sign it as a tribute to our wonderful Hostess and Host. A Unique Memento of our shared Gestalt happening. And pretty much a guarantee that they won't lose the book some time Up The Line. And that's why I was making an impromptu speech. See, Easy. Got you all there in the end.

Before my wee expostulatory paean, Mike has described the ongoing series of events that are resulting in a multiform celebration of Melle's party in various global venues. There's an explanation of how Mary Jane Lovatt became Melle. The clipped version is that our childhood amah Ah Yung could only pronounce "Mary" as "Mailly" which became a primary school loving taunt of "Smelly Melle-y, stinky belly" and was eventually dignified into Melle. She remembered more details than I did, but that's the gist. She's been a fabulous sister. The glue that holds our widespread family together. And Mike is the silent stiffened spine supporting all her endeavours. A great and humorous speech.

After Mike has wrapped up his descriptions of the ongoing natal celebrations, it's time for John Dainton to read a hysterically mock epic poem of tribute to Melle. A follow-on from his similar tribute a decade ago when Melle turned 50, The phrasing is perfect. The rhymes are rhapsodical. I get a namecheck as "Nick, the Lamma Librarian" so I'm chuffed. I'm told it was all videoed and the original manuscript by The Bawdy Bard is safe. Along with the earlier equal extraordinary epistle. Joan, an old schoolfriend of Melle's, is singled out for her immaculate work in setting the scene. Designing the decor. A timeless tabula. There's Dean, who is a fellow alumni of mine from Quarry Bay is here. Looking a bit frail, it has to be admitted. Somewhere in my other sister Sarah's attic are all my photo albums of my life as a medium heckraiser in HK. Encompassing the RTV-to-RTHK journo years. Plus early photos. Mum and Dad in their late 30's to early 40's on Tweed Bay Beach at Stanley. Dad was dark-Irish Greek God gorgeous looking in those days. Only eclipsed in beauty by Mom. None of us three kids had reached double digit ages. There was also a grand photo of Dean and me, posing at one of the weekend gatherings organised by the late Billy Tingle at the former HK Cricket Club adjacent to the HK Club site.

Jo Ruxton, Melle's longtime scuba diving belle buddy is here. Her documentary film, entitled "A Plastic Ocean", is name-checked. The world premiere was in HK yesterday (i.e. 7/11/2016). Two more shows are scheduled. It's a grim and graphic look at the pernicious perils of plastic pollution in our oceans and seas and the calamitous cessation of sea life that it causes, Don't know where it's showing, but I'm sure it can be googled. Go, go, Jo Jo. You rock. Also a quick heads up to The Mama Scales Fanclub. Four of my niece Tara's best friends who are on the same table as us. Jayne, Jena, Sara and Tasha. They spend most of their time chasing emojis and doing other cyber games on their cell phones. Don't talk much to Marilena and I. So I ask them about the Fanclub. In return, I inform them that they are really the current stage of human-alien gengineered beings. Dating back half a billion years. As are all of us in the room. And on the globe. Give them a mindfuck to muse upon. And now, the next sentence of my speech as best as I can recall...

"I can babble bollocks to all and sundry when I'm out with the BookStall on Lamma. Not phased at all. But this short moment in the spotlight is nerve-wracking"... make the speech asking everyone to please sign the book and end with an enquiry... "How do you like the suit. It's [i]great, isn't it?".[/i] General nods of approval and I guess my work here is done. Extend a heartfelt welcome to anyone who wants to come to Lamma Fun Day (12/11/2016) and enjoy seeing some excellent bands and me in my more natural habitat. It's free you know. Aside from making charity donations or buying economically priced tat or getting drunk and fed. And it's timed to finish with time for people to get the 2330 ferry back to Central. That story hasn't been written yet. A week or so down the timeline I guess. Marilena and I leave at midnight. Grab a cab (thanks Mike) and get home safely albeit satiated. Farctate even (look that word up yourselves). See you rocking and rolling and strutting and swinging at the PSB...


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2016 5:34 pm 
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Plus one more photo, Melle, Nick's younger sister, cutting her 60th birthday cake.


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