General

A Quiet Beginning for 2022

I began the New Year going through literally the hundreds of New Year greeting messages on my phone, mostly in graphics and impersonal, bidding farewell to 2021 and wishing everyone under the sun a brand new 2022, etc., etc., etc. I had already performed similar rituals a week before over similar messages during Christmas. I have no doubt the message senders all meant well and I thank everyone of them, but I am afraid I had neither the heart nor the energies to reply to all of them, except to those few who sent me personal and individual messages, however short. Lest I might be misunderstood, I have no problem with people cluttering the cyberspace with routine and identical messages, seemingly mindlessly, most of which would be forgotten and probably deleted very soon on receipt and hence rather short-lived. I think I am simply old fashioned and would prefer more conventional means of communication. It reminds me of Chapter One – Party Games – of Yes Prime Minister when Hacker was urged by Bernard on 6 December to deal with the Christmas cards, which “cannot be postponed any longer.” Hacker went on to surmise that getting the Christmas cards out was much more important than reading Cabinet Defence Papers, which he reckoned would only be of concern to the Secretary of State for Defence. Hacker attracted a note from the Editor that he, “like many politicians, was apparently unable to distinguish between ‘Urgent’ and ‘Important’. Bernard had described the Christmas cards as the former. Hacker assumed that he meant the latter.” And so on. I could go on along the line of urgency and importance ad nauseum, but probably not now.

Back to the last day of 2021. We got up late after the party the evening before. After breakfast, I decided to post a copy of my memoir to Laura whom I first knew as Jennifer in Vancouver. She had read my 2021 Year Ender on the internet and was somewhat affected by my mention of how I published the book, so much so that she had asked for a copy to be sent to her by surface mail to be paid for from her bank account in Hong Kong. This was too good to be true news indeed and I decided to fill the order before the year ran out, which would entail a trip to the Post Office. Since I was leaving the flat anyway, I decided to do a couple of other things in between, including taking some bottles to the bottle bank, taking some shirts to the laundry and going for a haircut, all of which I managed to finish within an hour. I returned to my flat, had a shower and took a nap. We had no party to go to. We had had only one invite to a countdown party initiated by Andrew, but which was cancelled because of insufficient interest. I still recall how Andrew’s party last year had ushered us and his friends into 2021. This time round, however, we ended up having a quiet evening between us two, content with having had a party the night before and a three-day staycation in a new hotel earlier. We decided to uncork two rather dated bottles of Bordeaux while Su cooked her specials. It could either be the mind or the wine, or even the vinyl, or a mixture of all, but the wine took a while to come alive, almost into the time for the count down.

New Year Day began as quietly as how New Year Eve passed. By the time we were about to make for the restaurant at Admiralty for a meeting with my siblings and their children, I discovered that I had lost my only one shade with prescriptions. I had misplaced it more than a couple of times in the past year.  I had left it at a bank counter, a restaurant, a public convenience and so on, but I had always managed to have it retrieved. It was like a lucky charm. This time, I was convinced that I could have left it in any one of venues I visited on New Year Eve, including the bottle bank, the laundry, the hair dresser and the Post Office. If I had left it with the bottle bank, it would have gone, which won’t be a good start. We went to the laundry and the hair dresser which were open on New Year Day. No luck. The Post Office was not open until Monday; and I had no luck again when I went to enquire. I had a dream on Sunday that I found the shade in the flat under a pile of newspapers, only that it had broken up either under the weight of the papers or had been trampled upon. Such was my attachment towards my beloved shade, which had kept me company for one entire year; and the last dream could tell me something I would never know. I had acquired it on New Year Day 2021. There must be a moral in the process, but I won’t go there now.

Yesterday, Su asked me to accompany her to Sheung Shui for a visit to the North District Park to take photos of some flowers and trees, specifically a species known as purple cosmos which had purple, white and pink flowers with eight petals. It took slightly more than one hour by MTR and East Rail to get there one way. It was rather sunny and pleasant. Her photography coach Tony and three or four senior students had arranged the trip; and off they went. Su needed more practices to perfect her newly acquired skills. I was ostensibly the equipment porter or caddy who also doubled as a model at times, but Tony and the others were polite and would refer to me as someone who knew how to operate traditional cameras. We arrived at the Park around 1:30 pm and stayed there for more than three hours. At the Amphitheatre where the main flower bed was laid out and well attended to by the professionals of the Leisure and Culture Department, there must be over 20 enthusiastic and expert photographers, armed with all sort of equipment and paraphernalia, including tripods, lenses and stools, and umbrellas too.  I took a panoramic shot with Su’s newly acquired fisheye lens, and she was impressed with the effects. There were other photo spots and artefacts worth shooting behind and around the Amphitheatre so that any photographer worth his salt would have no problem spending three hours or more at the site, which Su did. Su apologized to the group for leaving slightly early so that her husband could go home for a shower and costume changes before going to a Rotary club evening meeting.

I thought that was enough photo taking for one site. Even her coach said yesterday that he and his group wouldn’t go there too often. I was obviously wrong, for around 3:30 pm today, Su decided to re-visit the North District Park when the sun would be about to set.  She said she would go alone. Such is her signature dedication and single-minded determination. While she was away, I hammered out a piece of my mind; and I hope to talk to you again soon.

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