Wednesday, 30 September 2009

TT Tips September 2009

1. Doctor Death
2. Bank Robbers
3. The Hate List
4. Global Nose – Pickers and Zit Squeezing Events
5. Umbrella Eye Pokers
6. Thank You Hotel Excelsior
7. Another Cancer Cure
8. Jake

Doctor Death

Normally, an invitation to dine with Doctor Death would get a fairly chilly response from me, but as the invitation was from Robert Chua, Asia’s best-known and most innovative television mogul, I accepted with alacrity.

This might have not been entirely unconnected with the fact that the night before Robert had put on one of his famed dinner spectaculars. These are not to be missed. The Chua household is a veritable treasure house of Chinese antiquities and the food is equally spectacular. It must have been twenty courses at least but I lost count as we went into double figures.

The next day was the media lunch at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club. Doctor Death is Dr. Philip Nitschke from Australia and his talk entitled “Dignified Departure” covered the gritty question of Euthanasia. It was also offered to the Hong Kong Club, but perhaps having in mind the advanced age of many of the senior members, it was felt to be not appropriate.

They missed a riveting performance. Dr. Nitschke is one of the most gifted speakers I have encountered, and I have spent a large slice of my life coaching people in the art of public speaking.

His good humour, sound common sense and deep understanding of human nature under adversity was an object lesson on how to make a very serious subject absorbing and even entertaining.

His book, “The Peaceful Pill Handbook” is already in the Amazon Top 100 Bestseller List and it was only published two months ago. It wouldn’t surprise me if it goes to the top and stays there for years.

There comes a time in many lives when death is a welcome release. Everybody knows somebody facing this dilemma. To be able to face the media and put this view across is a special talent and Doctor Death deals with it magnificently and with great aplomb.


Bank Robbers

For the past few months, the giant American bank Citibank, right in the heart of our Central business district has been besieged by a number of elderly Chinese dressed in funereal white and bearing huge placards with messages such as, “Citibank are robbers”, “Citibank stole my savings”, “Citibank are thieves”.

Not very good for the bank’s image I thought as I passed the pickets every day on the corner of Pedder St. and Des Voeux Road, Central.

It was not only the placards, abusive as they were, but the screeching broadcast accompaniment which repeated the same damning message over and over again time after time from dawn till dusk.

Hong Kong being the incredibly tolerant city that it is, has put up with the noise and the obstruction. Police and Bank Security staff stood alongside the demonstrators and smiled understandingly.

I have to say that as a P.R. man myself, I felt a twinge of sympathy for the bank’s corporate communications staff.

On the other hand it’s the same Citibank that has its lunatic staff ringing me up at all hours of the day and night reminding me to pay a bill that I’ve taken care of a week ago.

So perhaps I’ll let them stew.


The Hate List

I am not given to hating – quite the reverse in fact, and before you all go rushing to Roget’s Thesaurus, the antonym is loving.

But the one sector of humanity that I hate with a passion are SPAMMERS.

May they all be hurled naked into vats of boiling lead and may their souls freeze for all eternity – and just to globalise this curse – may donkeys dance on the graves of their grandfathers.

Like most people struggling to pay for an occasional roof over my head, I am obliged to keep my laptop and mobile phone switched on for much of every day. It does not please me therefore, to find that a very high proportion of the messages I get by email or text are not as one might hope, matters of mouth-watering book publishing deals, or global publicity projects – or even well-paid parts in Hollywood movies, but pathetic messages from people who have something to sell that nobody else in the world wants to buy.

If any of the culprits are reading, let me say once and for all;

I do NOT want:

To meet other interesting “singles”

To train to become a nurse

To buy property in London, Spain, Australia or anywhere else

To become a top-notch Chef

To hear from that perennial pest “Quintessentially”

To inherit the millions of dollars waiting for me in Nigeria

To fly Easyjet for practically nothing

To ever hear again from “Asian Investor”

To learn the views of “Finance Asia”

To be insured by Prudential

And I never want to hear again from a ghastly outfit called Bath and Body or something called Church staffing

I am compiling a list of the biggest offenders. My lawyers are willing to sue them for me pro-bono.

Now that’s a measure of how people are getting pissed off with it.


The Hate List

Many years ago, returning from a trip to New York, I nicked the name by which the New York Police was known – “New York’s Finest” and applied it to our own boys in blue, adapted to “Asia’s Finest”.

As I was running the Royal HK Police Force’s Public Relations Bureau, I thought I’d exploit the issue by commissioning a book on the Police Force under the same title. Journalist Kevin Sinclair jumped at the offer of writing it and ended up by publishing it too.

On my more recent visit to New York, I discovered that Hong Kong is not these days held in such high regard. One travel advisor there who used to send us thousands of tourists every year, was taking a doomsday view of our city which, he says is currently earning itself the title “Asia’s Foulest”.

Do you think that might compel the powers that be both here and in China major to do something effective about the gagging pollution here? New York, London, Los Angeles all fought the same battle and won.

Why are we so hopeless?

Usually when I advise readers regarding hoping for government to actually do something, I end by saying, “don’t hold your breath”. Under the circumstances, that would be entirely inappropriate.


Global Nose – Pickers and Zit Squeezing Events

The International Olympics Advisory professed themselves well pleased with my recommendations which I put forward before the Beijing Olympics, but agreed with me that certain of these events, would have given the mainlanders unfair advantage.

Regular readers of TT Tips will recall, I’m sure, my proposal that the following new events should be introduced:


Champions will be judged on two criteria: range and accuracy


This event will be judged on harvesting. Anyone travelling on public transport North of the Hong Kong border will have observed that the true nose-picking champions of China can often remove a prize as big as a lamb chop from only one nostril before carefully depositing it on the chair arm of the seat on a bus or a hand stirrup on one of the MTR trains.


Zit-squeezing among young Chinese couples takes the place of hand-holding and inside leg-rubbing among western couples. Chinese teenagers regard zit-squeezing as the ultimate in expressing devotion and true love forever. Happily most young Hong Kong males have enough zits on their faces alone to make the game worthwhile.

Zit-squeezing could again be judged in size and range. Once, whilst stuck in a delayed train at Mong Kok station, I saw a zit expelled that when squeezed, flew the whole length of the carriage before splattering its mixture of blood and pus on the inside window of the train.

But all of the above are old hat nowadays and the Olympic organizers are right to decide that each of these three events would give mainland Chinese an unfair edge over less experienced competitors.

My latest wheeze is for the Olympic event based on pavement, (or sidewalk if you are American) bumping.

Observing mainland pedestrians on the sidewalks of Hong Kong, finally convinced me that here indeed is a sport that Hong Kong could finally win.

Whilst in the crowded western cities such as London, New York, Paris and Tokyo pedestrians instinctively realign their heading as they become aware, almost subconsciously, of someone approaching them on a potential collision course.

This art, craft instinct call it what you will is honed by centuries of practice and becoming aware that if one party or the other doesn’t give way and change direction – however slightly – there will be a collision.

Our much-valued tourists from the mother country to the north just haven’t been able to work this out. Consequently, mainland tourists and Hong Kong residents are constantly bumping into each other.

To prepare the world for this eventuality, I am proposing an Olympic event where tens of thousands of pedestrians in suits and ties, carrying briefcases and talking into mobile phones are walking purposefully forward, blind to the other thousands, similarly attired, walking towards them, will endeavor to bump into as many people as possible. Casual observation of this sort of activity convinces me that HK would be world-beaters at this event.


Umbrella Eye Pokers

Another event that I am considering is the eye-poking by umbrellas.

On any rainy day, or even excessively sunny day – for Hong Kong people abhor sun-tans, you’ll see the sheer expertise with which a HK umbrella-bearer can poke out an eye or two by simply walking down the street and ignoring anyone coming towards them.

For the old China Hands, this is not a problem but it might have a lot to do with the fact that a lot of tourists leaving here after a holiday are wearing eye patches or exceptionally thick sunglasses.

Quite clearly, some competitive element is at work here and I suspect that the word has leaked out about my petition to the Olympic organizers to work this jolly pastime into international sport.

Judging by my observation in Causeway Bay on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon in summer or winter, a whole generation of young enthusiasts are lusting after the honor of representing their country at this eye-popping event.


Thank You Hotel Excelsior

I was about to add the name of the Hotel Excelsior on my Hate List of people who bombard me every day with unwanted junk mail or spam. Now they’ve cunningly won me over by naming their new outdoor roof terrace after me.

I first encountered the Excelsior Hotel when it first opened and I was taking a (very minor) part in the Peter Seller’s all-time classic movie The Pink Panther. Incidentally, the revolving door was installed as part of the set of that movie and was retained for over a quarter of a century after the movie was shot. It’s little tit-bits (that’s not rude, is it?) like this that get an iconic facility like a rooftop dining area named after you.

But quite honestly, “TT’s Lounge” doesn’t really turn me on. I’d prefer them to cut out the spamming.


Another Cancer Cure

For some reason best known to the Gods, TT Tips has become a forum for publishing odd bits of information about the latest gimmick in the fight against cancer. Anybody who doesn’t know about the dangers of cigarette smoking must be living in another world, but there’s a lot more you can do.

My last earth-shattering revelation was that carrots, (as long as you don’t peel them or cut them into small bits) can prevent cancer.

This month, we bring you broccoli. That much-hated vegetable that your mother castigated you for leaving at the edge of your plate while grabbing for the pudding, has been identified as having qualities that limit the development of cancer cells. But you have to be careful how you cook it, very careful i.e. not to overcook it.



In my not so humble view Jake Van Der Kamp is the most readable business columnist writing in English today. Of course I’ve lost my life savings backing his forecasts, (only kidding), but for making business and financial news readable, understandable and sheer fun Jake is the master. Which is surprising because his native language is a quaint northern European tongue that it is often referred to as double wherever-it-is: never-the-less Jake’s English is clever, witty and informative.

So when his latest book came out, his friends (all envious), flocked to the celebratory lunch to raise a glass in his honor.

Jake is a long-time member of the retreat for furtive drinker’s, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, an establishment referred to by abandoned husbands as the Foreign Co-respondent’s Club and with good cause.

But whereas Jake’s columns treat of financial and business matters and seldom do the scallywags escape without a sound drubbing, Jake’s latest book “The Twelfth Fairy” is about God – or perhaps the lack of God. More specifically Jake’s book is about the complete lack of any proof whatsoever that someone up there in that blue sky is a tall bearded figure in a long white nightie with wings stretching out from his shoulders blades.

Jake’s original arrows were directed at a certain Roman Catholic cardinal who has been very outspoken about the lack of democracy or indeed any representation of the common people in the hallowed halls of Government.

Jake’s point implies that this is the pot calling the kettle black and refers to the lack of representation by the common people in the Vatican.

Good point.

Jake also, having in mind the dodgy reputation of some of the more thrusting members, the sort who gave the Correspondents’ Club its second name, declined to invite his wife to the event.

I hope that has nothing to do with the fact that she was supposed to be sitting next to me.



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