Today marks the 47th anniversary of my wedding with Rosita, and for those who had followed avidly the Sino-British negotiations in the run-up to 1997, the 37th anniversary of the death of Sir Edward Youde. We are also good friends of a couple who celebrate their wedding anniversary today. Let me disclose slowly though not unemotionally the circumstances which had led to my bringing up all these.
We have kept a mini-storage at Tai Wo Hau for over 10 years by now and last week the owners gave us notice that we needed to move by year end to another storage near Kwai Fong. This is not the first time it happened to us; and we understand that the operators would facilitate the move somehow. But it means that we would take the opportunity to go over the stuff and trim down our storage somehow. It won’t be easy, but somehow, we need to go through the motion, which was what happened today.
I had marked a few boxes to indicate that they were for the personal effects of my children. I had also given them notice that I couldn’t keep them forever because (a) it was costly; and (b) and more importantly, I won’t live forever. I found in one of the boxes three “thank-you” notes hand-written and signed by me in December 2001 meant for guests who had attended the Silver Wedding Anniversary of Rosita and John, but which were not sent, so that my daughter had kept them as souvenirs. I also found a photo album of Rosita with photos taken before we met. There were many other artefacts, ranging from torn jeans and old clothes, old exercise books, music tapes, broken computers, comic books, bed sheets, woolies and what nots. And once again, it was not the first time I came across the stuffs. I had labelled on the cover of one box, for example, “First packed in 2006, repacked in 2012, and last packed in 2016”. In another box, I found a framed photo taken on 1 May 2004 which marked the 10th Anniversary of the Rotary Club of Kingspark together with some Rotary ties, pins and souvenirs of the year I was District Governor. I found many other memorabilia in some other boxes, including the long-lost plaques marking the various honours I was awarded by Rotary International. My first reactions were, “all such attachments.”
We had a Past Rotary International President by the name of Paulo Costa, a Brazilian, who had a room dedicated to keeping all the memorabilia related to Rotary. Well, he could do it in Brazil with so much space and while he was alive. I don’t know what happened afterwards. Su likes to visit the flea markets in Apliu Street to hunt for period vinyls for cheap. Very often, she came back with loads of discs which she got for $20 to $30 each which I suspect were collected by refuse collectors from households with someone passed away recently. It is interesting that vinyls of local artistes would cost a lot more, and apparently the market for what we call oldies is waning.
The point I was trying to make is that what one considers valuable at any one time would only be valuable to that person and at certain particular time only. It was thus Su and I had collected so many books and memorabilia over time because we somehow had attached so much of our time and energies to them separately or collectively at some stages our lives, again, separately or collectively.
I had asked my children for example whether they would like to receive and keep the stuff I had been keeping for them over the years. They asked for a manifest, which I found it difficult to produce. They had also suggested I sent them over, which I found impractical, not only because of the cost, but also because of the customs angle.
I suspect that whatever decision I took at the end of the day wouldn’t matter in the scheme of things and would have little to no consequence whatsoever. It reminds me of a little exercise I took a few years back when I asked a young friend to take away from our storage two boxes of stamps – all unused Hong Kong stamps and First Day Covers – Rosita and I had collected over the years, mainly pre-1997. He happily took them away, cleaned the boxes and dusted the contents, and had actually tried to sell some of the stock, bringing me every now and then a bottle of single malt bought from the proceeds. If I had left them in the storage, I don’t think I would even go that far.
I have probably been babbling; and I haven’t had any whisky. I should stop here before I become more incoherent.